Almost thirty countries are facing an impending food crisis caused by COVID-19. Photo: Stefanie Glinski / FAOROME, May 1 (IPS) – More than a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, food security continues to show its fragility.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in 2020 that more than 690 million people are starving and that the pandemic outbreak is forecasting a 130 million increase in the number of people affected by chronic hunger worldwide, a fact which is gradually being reviewed.
This means that more than 10 percent of the world’s population is in a borderline situation, which deviates from the goals proposed by the international community on the Platform for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, which is poverty and hunger to be eliminated by 2030.
This situation is exacerbated by the existence of more than 650 million people suffering from obesity problems, realizing that, besides hunger, malnutrition is another scourge in constant development.
In Latin America alone, 200 million adults and 50 million children and adolescents are overweight.
Although this difficult reality existed before the pandemic began, some of the reasons that defined this situation, such as: B. Conflicts, increased significantly in the last year.
This is the situation in countries like the Congo, where according to a report jointly produced by the FAO and the World Food Program (WFP) in 2021, more than 27 million people (every third Congolese) are in a situation of acute food insecurity. In another FAO and WFP report from the second half of 2020, both organizations forecast that more than 27 countries in all regions were facing a food crisis caused by COVID-19.
The fragility of the health situation is exacerbated by the impact of deteriorating economic conditions resulting from the same circumstances.
It is estimated that 35 percent of jobs related to the food system are at risk today.
Some economists are already defining the situation that began in 2020 as a “lost decade”.
If we wanted to go back to pre-pandemic levels, i.e. before 2019, and if we maintained the last decade’s average growth of 1.8 percent, we would not reach the economic levels of more than a year earlier by 2024 until 2024 However, if the growth average were that of the past six years, i.e. 0.3 percent, we would not return to the 2019 situation for ten years.
In 2020, imports were badly affected, there were major trade difficulties, border closings and transport problems that have only been partially overcome in recent months.
In Latin America alone, the decline in gross domestic product was 7.7 percent, with 2.7 million companies of all types closed.
Although the extent of the contagion continues to increase according to global numbers, the beginning of the gradual but massive vaccination process has raised hopes of overcoming the worst moments of the current situation.
When this difficult scenario begins an improvement process in the second half of this year or towards the beginning of 2022, a situation that has yet to be reviewed, countries should prepare to heal wounds and face the existing crises in the health, economic and health triangle Environment with a view to development.
Many countries, specialists and international organizations such as the FAO believe that tools to accelerate recovery should focus on innovation, technology, data management and other key aspects such as human capital, institutions and governance.
Investments, especially in infrastructure along the entire food value chain, must be prioritized. There is a need to improve the technology and infrastructure for food handling, storage and processing, as well as to increase investment in the structure of agricultural production in order to reduce losses and waste.
Food security in the food sector should also be improved, productivity optimized and greenhouse gas emissions reduced, the protection of natural resources increased, dispersion and losses reduced and the use of natural resources optimized.
In parallel, trade needs to be improved through diversification, increasing e-commerce and increasing resilience in times of crisis.
To do this, new synergies must be generated between different actors.
At the FAO level, a global food coalition was recently launched to try to overcome the solutions that are confined to the countries themselves and to have a fluid dialogue between them about the positive experiences that this first year of COVID-19 has had -Pandemic and in Prepare countries for the next phase of socio-economic and environmental recovery.
This coalition is based on four main axes: a global plan for humanitarian aid, economic inclusion and social protection to reduce poverty, reduce food waste and transform the food system.
This is a major challenge for which governments do not act individually. The private sector, civil society and the academic sector, among others, need to participate in this protection and reboot efforts.
The months ahead will tell if we are on the right track to mitigate the effects of this massive pandemic and whether countries are back on track to absorb the effects of this dramatic crisis and project a reality that resembles the opens up new perspectives for next generations.
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