Coronavirus: Threats it Poses to Global Food Security and Nutrition
For decades the number of undernourished people had been declining, but as of 2015, this is no longer the case. Current trends of food insecurity are especially alarming in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Supply chain pressures and international movement restrictions, coupled with a worldwide economic crisis, and are exacerbating the current food security crisis.
Before 2020, the number of malnourished people across the World was rising due to conflicts and climate change in various parts. Currently, the number of people facing chronic undernourishment is at over 800 million, and over 100 million people in pressing need of life-saving food assistance.
Coronavirus is, therefore, posing a significant threat to the nations that are yet working on improving their healthcare infrastructure and with poverty. Records indicate that African countries despite not recording high numbers of covid19 as compared to the European and Asian countries, it may be due to the lack of testing capability.
Nations without robust social safety nets are at risk from the pandemic. In this case, safety nets are the lifelines to help stem the negative economic and nutritional impacts of COVID-19.
Many nations in Africa cannot offer increased support for food-based safety, and many face the inability to put food on the table. Records indicate that only 20% of people living in developing countries to social protections, with few having access to food-based safety nets.
The pandemic might be deadly to people who have been suffering from hunger or malnourished. According to the latest report, Africa is listed as with the highest percentage of people undergoing starvation. This means, people, experiencing malnutrition, have higher chances of being negatively affected by the pandemic.
As the pandemic is yet to reach its peak, we expect disruptions in the food supply chain, food shortages and price increase soon. In Kenya currently, the prices of vegetables have more than doubled, piling pressure on consumers and the hospitality industry, even as observers tip the trend to persist deep in the coming months.
A spot check shows that prices of tomatoes, kale, spinach, potatoes, onions, and capsicum have nearly doubled. African nations (Kenya included) with high reliance on food importation, so to meet demand, have challenges as some importation channels have been suspended.
The pandemic may cause the global economy to slow or even fall into recession, which will trigger hunger and poverty in the continent. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Coronavirus is “the gravest threat since the global financial crisis” in 2008.
“Uneven pace of economic recovery and continuing poor economic performance in many countries after the 2008–2009 global economic downturn are also undermining efforts to end hunger and malnutrition,” states the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World in their latest report (the “SOFI”)
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