A year on, COVID-19 continues to demonstrate the fragility of food security – global issues


More than a year after the start of the epidemic, food security and food security still demonstrate their vulnerability: more than 690 million people suffer from hunger - the outbreak of the epidemic predicts an increase of 130 million in the number of people affected by chronic diseases.  World hunger
Nearly thirty countries face an imminent food crisis caused by COVID-19. Photo: Stefanie Glinski / FAO
  • Opinion By Mario Lubetkin (Rome)
  • Inter Press service
  • Mario Lubetkin is Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in 2020 that more than 690 million people suffer from hunger, and that the outbreak of the epidemic predicted an increase of 130 million in the number of people affected by chronic hunger in the world. A fact that is gradually being verified.

This means that more than 10 percent of the world’s population is in a borderline situation, a fact that departs from the goals proposed by the international community in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) platform in 2015, which are the eradication of poverty and hunger. By 2030.

This situation is exacerbated by the presence of more than 650 million people suffering from obesity problems, which, in addition to hunger, determines malnutrition another scourge that is constantly evolving.

In Latin America alone, 200 million adults and 50 million children and adolescents are overweight.

Although this difficult reality existed before the start of the epidemic, some of the reasons that defined this situation, such as conflicts, have witnessed a significant increase over the past year.

This is the case in countries like the Congo, where according to a report prepared jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program in 2021, more than 27 million people (one in three Congolese) suffer from acute food insecurity. In another FAO and World Food Program report from the second half of 2020, both organizations predicted that more than 27 countries in all regions were hit by an impending food crisis caused by COVID-19.

The precariousness of the health situation is exacerbated by the effects of the deteriorating economic conditions resulting from the same conditions.

It is estimated that 35 percent of diet-related jobs are at risk today.

Some economists already define the situation that began in 2020 as the “lost decade”.

If we want to return to pre-pandemic levels, that is, before 2019, and if we maintain average growth in the past decade, which was 1.8 percent, then only by 2024 will we reach economic levels for more than a year before 2024. Average growth is the average of the past six years, or 0.3 percent, so we’ll return to the situation in 2019 only 10 years later.

In 2020, imports were severely affected, and there were significant trade difficulties, border closures and transportation problems that were only partially overcome in recent months.

In Latin America alone, the decline in GDP reached 7.7 percent, with 2.7 million businesses of all kinds shutting down.

Although infection levels continue to rise, according to world numbers, the start of a gradual and widespread vaccination process has generated hope that the worst moments of the current situation will be overcome.

If this difficult scenario begins the process of improvement in the second half of this year or towards the beginning of 2022, a situation that has not yet been verified, countries must prepare to heal wounds and confront the existing crises in the triangle of health, economy and the environment. From a development perspective.

According to the ideas of many countries, specialists and international organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the tools to accelerate the recovery should focus on innovation, technology, data management and other key aspects such as human capital, institutions and governance.

It will be imperative to prioritize investments, particularly in infrastructure, across the entire food value chain. It is imperative to improve technology and infrastructure for handling, storing and processing food products, as well as increasing investment in the structure of agricultural production to reduce waste and waste.

It must also improve food security in the nutrition sector, improve productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increase protection of natural resources, reduce dispersion and losses, and improve the use of natural resources.

Parallel to this, trade must be improved through diversification, increased e-commerce and increased resilience in times of crisis.

For this to happen, a new synergy must be created between the different players.

At the level of the Food and Agriculture Organization, a global coalition on food was launched recently to try to overcome solutions that are confined to countries themselves, and to establish a seamless dialogue between them about the positive experiences developed in this first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in turn, prepare countries for the phase The following from the social, economic and environmental recovery.

This alliance is based on four main axes: a global plan for humanitarian responses, economic inclusion and social protection to reduce poverty, reduce food waste, and transform the food system.

This is a huge challenge, and individual action is not enough for governments. The private sector, civil society and academia, among others, should also participate in this protection and efforts to relaunch it.

The coming months will indicate whether we are on the right track to reduce the impact of this massive epidemic, and whether countries will return to the right track to absorb the effects of this dramatic crisis and present a reality that will give new perspectives to future generations.

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


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