The world’s largest humanitarian organisation has warned that hundreds of millions of people around the world face serious food insecurity.
In a new report released this week, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that the number of acutely food-insecure people in 79 countries in which it operates will almost double to 270 million.
David Beasley, WFP’s executive director, said: “The frontline in the battle against the coronavirus is shifting from the rich to the poor world.” The agency highlights problems for the developing world, including a decline in remittances from families working abroad and disruption of the national and international food supply.
In London, where an alarming 1.8 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity, the Evening Standard has raised over £7 million for our appeal partner The Felix Project, which has delivered over four million meals to vulnerable families.
But focusing on developing countries, World Vision, a humanitarian organisation, partnered with the WFP in a survey that found that one-third of households in nine Asian countries — including India, Bangladesh and Myanmar — have reduced the number of meals they eat each day.
Andrew Morley, president of World Vision International, said: “Children are going to bed hungry, and parents don’t know where their next meal will come from. This is a crisis, with millions of vulnerable children on the brink of severe hunger.”
According to WFP, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa have seen the biggest spikes of people in need of food aid. Instability, drought, the Venezuelan migrant crisis and the spread of Covid-19 threaten to increase food insecurity by 269 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Food insecurity in the Middle East and Central Asia will rise by 29 per cent. WFP also said that 9.3 million Syrians have been going to bed hungry since the coronavirus crisis.
In west and central Africa, the number of food-insecure is projected to grow by 135 per cent to 57.5 million.
Countries like the Central African Republic, Cameroon and Nigeria are especially at risk.
Mr Beasley added: “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos. Without it, we could see increased social unrest, a rise in migration, deepening conflict and widespread under-nutrition among populations that were previously immune from hunger.”