Global food emergency on the horizon, warns UNSG

The UN Secretary General has sounded the alarm for the future in a pandemic-ridden world, saying that a food emergency is imminent. He has urged countries to focus on food and nutrition security within their borders, lest the fall-out from the pandemic becomes an even bigger headache.

global food emergency

The world is facing an “impending global food emergency” that could impact hundreds of millions of people as the coronavirus pandemic threatens already strained supply chains, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday. This is an alarming development for the world community, even as it battles the ongoing pandemic; leaders of the world community must now take charge and evert a possible catastrophe forecasted as a fallout from the pandemic.

“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults”, he said, in a video message to accompany the launch.

“Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse,” the UN chief said in a statement accompanying a report by the world body.

Global food emergency: Guterres sounds the alarm

“There is more than enough food in the world to feed our population of 7.8 billion people. But, today, more than 820 million people are hungry. And some 144 million children under the age of five are stunted — more than one in five children worldwide. Our food systems are failing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse,” the UN chief said in his video message for the launch of UN policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition on Tuesday.

“More than 820 million people are hungry,” he said. “Some 144 million children under the age of five are stunted –- more than one in five children worldwide.”

He warned that “this year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand,” he said.

Read more: Consequences of Undernutrition-Reduced Future Productivity of Children

“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults.”

The secretary-general warned that unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that “there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults.”

Food sector needs better protection to stave off global food emergency

Guterres called for better protection for workers in the food sector, for humanitarian aid deliveries to be safeguarded and for support for food producers and distributors to avoid interruptions to the supply chain.

He also wanted more emphasis placed on nutritional programs, including aid to children who lack access to school meals.

Read more: World Bank says coronavirus will badly disrupt the food supply chain

The UN chief said it was possible to develop healthy and nutritional food to help eradicate world hunger.

“This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

In April, the UN raised the alarm about a potential explosion in the number of people at severe risk of hunger because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Food shortage a natural byproduct of the decrease in global GDP

“This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

Read more: Right to Food – A right being relentlessly abused

Every percentage point drop in global gross domestic product means an additional 0.7 million stunted children, he said. “Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruptions in the food supply chain.”

“We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic,” the UN chief noted.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself: Guterres to the world

To tackle the dire situation, Guterres urged the international community to “mobilize to save lives and livelihoods, focusing attention where the risk is most acute.”

“That means designating food and nutrition services as essential, while implementing appropriate protections for food workers,” he said.

Read more: Pakistan’s Unusual and Unprecedented Food Inflation – What is driving it?

“It means preserving critical humanitarian food, livelihood and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups,” said the secretary-general. “And it means positioning food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems.”

“Countries need to scale up support for food processing, transport and local food markets, and they must keep trade corridors open to ensure the continuous functioning of food systems,” said Guterres. “And they must ensure that relief and stimulus packages reach the most vulnerable, including meeting the liquidity needs of small-scale food producers and rural businesses.”

The UN chief also called for efforts to “strengthen social protection systems for nutrition.”

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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