By Ugo Aliogo
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has revealed a rise in the number of poor persons it plans to assist globally, saying the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed millions of people into food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries.
The Executive Director, World Food Programme, David Beasley, in a statement said the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus is shifting from the rich to the poor world.
He stated: “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos. Without it, we could see increased social unrest and protests, a rise in migration, deepening conflict and widespread under-nutrition among populations that were previously immune from hunger.
“This unprecedented crisis requires an unprecedented response. If we do not respond rapidly and effectively to this viral threat, the outcome will be measured in an unconscionable loss of life, and efforts to roll back the tide of hunger will be undone.”
The statement explained that to tackle the rising tide of hunger, the WFP was undertaking the biggest humanitarian response in its history, by ramping up the number of people it assists to up to 138 million from a record 97 million in 2019.
It further noted that sustained funding was urgently required to respond to the immediate consequences of the pandemic on the most vulnerable, and support governments and partners, “as they curb the spread of the disease and deal with the fallout from the pandemic.”
It added that the WFP was appealing for a US$ 4.9 billion over the next six months for its life-saving work in 83 countries.
It maintained that WFP projections on the number of people who would be pushed into food insecurity by COVID-19 have now been refined with real-time monitoring and assessments.
According to the statement: “WFP’s new estimates show that the number of hungry in the countries where it operates could increase to 270 million before the year’s end – an 82 per cent increase from before the pandemic took hold.
“The crisis unfolds at a time when the number of severely food insecure people in the world had already risen nearly 70 percent over the past four years, compounding the effects of climate change, conflict and socio-economic shocks in regions of the world that had previously escaped severe levels of food insecurity.”