How COVID-19 has affected global food security
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Income declines have put food access at risk, impacting worldwide food security adversely. It is hard for everyone, but for those who live below the poverty line, it is a disaster. The poorest households typically spend 70% of their total incomes on food. Now, many have no income. This will only exacerbate poverty levels and reduce access to food, particularly nutritious foods.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected a 5% decline in the world economy in 2020. Researchers and analysts fear that this deep recession would push 150 million more people into extreme poverty worldwide.
The closure of schools and restaurants, massive shifts in food demand and supply arising from income losses, and labor shortages caused by quarantines have led to continuous disruptions in agricultural markets and food systems.
Global governments have worked relentlessly to ensure the availability of staple foods during the pandemic. But there is an obvious disparity between the poor and rich countries. Even within a nation, there is a disparity between low-income and affluent areas.
More impoverished regions have suffered, particularly regarding access to nutrition-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and animal-sourced products. All the years of fighting for food security seemed to have become undone. The disruption will lead to greater susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus, increased micronutrient deficiencies, and poor health.
Food processing sectors, which tend to be labor-intensive, have been particularly susceptible to these disruptions, even in rich countries like the U.S. In poorer countries and developing nations, employees in the food production industry work in close proximity. The risk of disease transmission is high, which has stalled production in many places. Labor shortages, along with disruptions in transportation and logistics, have upended these industries.
International solidarity is the need of the hour.
As scientists race against time to find a vaccine, global solidarity is what will stem the flow of food insecurity. Support from high-income countries and international organizations is crucial for low- and middle-income countries. This will combat the food crisis, mitigate the enormous humanitarian costs associated with the health tragedy of COVID-19, and aid in global economic recovery.
Trade and export will ensure availability and stability, so keeping trade channels open is important. Lifting embargoes and sanctions, even temporarily, would provide better food access for all. International solidarity will reduce gaps in production, ensure diversification of supplies, help stabilize world markets, and combat the economic effects of COVID-19.
As people are forced to stay home for weeks on end, have children to feed and use up more energy, they see expenses and grocery costs go up astronomically. Loss of income means millions are struggling to pay for necessities.
Even for people with jobs, having entire families at home means worrying about food and utility costs, all of which have doubled. Now people who have never had to worry about making ends meet worry about paying grocery and utility bills. What can governments do so to ensure that they don't worry about not getting any food at all?
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