UN warns world faces ‘mega-famines’ due to coronavirus

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has cautioned that the world faces famines if enough funds are not pledged to combat the effects of the virus on the world’s most fragile countries, which are already grappling with food insecurity.   

‘What we are facing now is a double pandemic of famines that could impact us on biblical proportions,’ WFP’s executive director David Beasley said during a conference in Geneva on Thursday.   

He added theWFP helps nearly 100 million people on any given day and ‘unless we can keep those essential operations going, the health pandemic will soon be followed by a hunger pandemic’.  

The pandemic could devastate livelihoods and food security, while a global recession would majorly disrupt food supply chains, pushing an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation.   

Movement restrictions necessary to prevent the virus’ spread will likely disrupt the transport and processing of food, leading to declines in crop and livestock production and sales and dangerously reduce the availability of even the most basic food items, a UN report says.   

Meanwhile, rising unemployment as a result of lockdowns could severely diminish some people’s purchasing power, driving down demand for higher quality products amid rising food prices as a result of protectionist policies, depreciating currencies and a lack of agricultural labour.   

Yesterday the UN issued a new appeal for $4.7billion in funding to protect lives and stop the spread of the disease in fragile countries.  

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