COVID-19 could push 265 mn people into acute hunger by end of 2020: WFP

Representational Image (Source: Twitter)

New Delhi (NVI): The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020.

The UN body and other partners released a new report on food crises around the world on April 21. According to a WFP projection, the number of people facing acute food insecurity (IPC/CH 3 or worse) stands to rise to 265 million in 2020, up by 130 million from the 135 million in 2019, as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19.

The estimate was announced alongside the release of the Global Report on Food Crises, produced by WFP and 15 other humanitarian and development partners.

WFP’s Chief Economist, Arif Husain said: “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock-like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe.”

Some 265 million people in low and middle-income countries will be in acute food insecurity by the end of 2020 unless swift action is taken, according to WFP.

As per Global Report on Food Crises, the majority of people suffering acute food insecurity in 2019 were in countries affected by conflict (77 million), climate change (34 million) and economic crises (24 million people).

South Sudan had 61 percent of its population in a state of food crisis (or worse) in 2019. Six other countries also had at least 35 percent of their populations in a state of food crisis: Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Syrian Arab Republic and Haiti, the report said.

Apart from that, 10 countries constituted the worst food crises in 2019: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, the Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti, as per Global Report on Food Crises.

These ten countries accounted for 66 percent of the total population in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or 88 million people, it said.

Considering the situation, WFP has said that it is vital that the food assistance programme be maintained, including its own programmes which offer a lifeline to almost 100 million vulnerable people globally.