“Walang namamatay sa gutom. Ang isang buwan, hindi ka pa mamamatay,” said former presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo when Filipinos expressed their fear of being pushed to the brink of starvation. But it seems like the United Nations World Food Program disagrees with this.
The food crisis has long been a global problem but the coronavirus is making it worse. One hundred thirty-five million people across the globe are currently living with acute hunger and suffering from malnutrition, and the pandemic may nearly double this number by the end of 2020.
“The drivers of food crises, as well as lack of access to dietary energy and diversity, safe water, sanitation and health care will continue to create high levels of malnutrition, while COVID-19 is likely to overburden health systems,” United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) chief economist Arif Husain reported on Tuesday, Apr. 21.
The current global economic downturn has disrupted food supply chains, with physical distancing limiting the availability of agricultural laborers and interrupting food production. It has also become particularly difficult to transport livestock and food supplies from one place to another. This recession may drive up prices and negatively affect food accessibility.
Due to the lockdown, daily wage earners and people living hand-to-mouth have lost their income sources, in turn reducing their purchasing power and heightening the risk of food insecurity, especially in vulnerable sectors.
And although the Philippine government is doubling its effort to fight this food crisis, more than 13 million people are already on the brink of starvation due to the delayed distribution of emergency cash assistance to low-income families.
“Anticipatory actions must be undertaken now to safeguard the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people and related agri-food systems to protect the critical food supply chain,” said Husain.
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Writer: KLEO CATIENZA