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The harmful effects of Covid-19 on food security

By the end of the year, the pandemic could bring hunger to 130 million people, this could get worse in the context of Covid-19 and this figure may increase.


Silvia Martínez


As set out in the report “The state of food security and nutrition in the world” (SOFI) 2020, the impact of Covid-19 may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished, depending on the economic growth scenario.

But the 164th Council of the FAO had already predicted an increase in hunger and malnutrition due to a ‘combination of the effects of Covid-19, the containment measures of the disease and the consequent global recession’. It is attributed to an increase in poverty, particularly in low-income countries dependent on the importation of food. It also warns that a potential global recession caused by the new coronavirus may undo a decade of progress in terms of poverty elimination.

The analysis claims that, unlike the food price crisis in 2007 and 2008, the new threat is access to food and not its availability.

According to the FAO’s revised estimates, up to 120.3 million people could start to suffer a food crisis due to the decline of economic growth.

The fall in demand of exports of basic products such as oil, cotton and minerals, the collapse of tourism and the reduction of remittance flows seriously affects developing countries.

In its comprehensive Covid-19 Response and Recovery Programme, which aims to prevent a global food emergency during and after the pandemic and for which it sought an initial investment of $1.2 billion, the FAO is focusing on an ‘agile and coordinated global response’.

With such a response, it seeks to guarantee access to nutritious food through the mobilisation of resources and associations on a national, regional and global level. The director general of this organisation states that it is imperative to work hard in order to limit the harmful effects of the disease in food security and nutrition, and explained that digital technology is the only way to tackle these threats, which equally  applies to humanitarian aid and the control of desert locust.

Zero Hunger

There is less than a decade to go to reach the Zero Hunger goal throughout the world as set out in the United Nation’s (UN) 2030 Agenda, an objective which has being showing signs for years that it is unachievable.

Since 2015, different global organisations have warned about the steady increase in hunger, after decades of decline, and the progressive move away from the goal of achieving food security and eradicating all forms of malnutrition.

In this regard, but more to promote sustainable agriculture, the second of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) concentrates on the proper management of agriculture, forestry and aquaculture as a means of providing nutritious food, generating decent incomes and promoting development from and for rural people, without damaging the environment.

Facts and realities that are part of the 17 SDG and their 169 goals that form part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, agreed in 2015 by its Member States, are committed to eradicating poverty and inequality, guaranteeing human and social rights and promoting sustainable economic growth, among others. Conflicts such as wars, tribal clashes, unilateral coercive measures, as well as climate change and its extreme phenomenon such as droughts and floods are the most visible causes of persistent hunger, together with the major outbreak of desert locust and Covid-19 have shattered any form of progress.

The 2017 SOFI report “The state of food security and nutrition in the world” warned about how ‘difficult it would be to achieve the goal of a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030’.

Currently, the experts are doubtful that this goal will be reached, particularly in the face of a global picture of major economic and social crisis due to the disease.

The same was determined by the SOFI 2020 report, prepared by five UN agencies, which reported that, in 2019, approximately 690 million people went hungry.

This figure represents, in relation to the previous year, 10 million more, almost 60 million in five years and which puts hunger back at 2010/11 levels.

The report also warns that in 2030, on the world’s current course, 840 million people will have limited options in terms of feeding themselves, in other words, they will be joining the planet’s army of the starving.

(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: Photos: Pixabay

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