With the world facing food scarcity, the global pandemic has once again shown the fragile food chain of the world. The COVID-19 that has already shaken the world to its roots is proving to be more and more deadly every day and in every possible aspect. What could have worsened the situation is happening; Globally millions of people are facing an acute food shortage.
Analysts believe that such an unprecedented hunger emergency was never witnessed after the second world war. They expect that the pandemic is going to double the number of starving people i.e. 265 million by the end of this year. The pandemic is adversely affecting both lives and livelihood.
Food Scarcity pre-COVID Era
Scarcity of food happens when there is a lack of needed calories intake by a person in a day. Lack of proper nutrition causes numerous problems. Because of the lack of proper nourishment in children, their physical and mental development suffers.
An estimate of 135 million people around the globe lives in an acute scarcity of food.
Now the lockdowns and norms of social distancing are drying up the income sources and work. It is disrupting the global supply chain. Arif Husain, chief economist of the World Food Programme says, this is going to double the number of starving people. Which is about 265 million people globally, are gonna face shortage of food by the end of 2020.
Food scarcity around the globe
Many people in different parts of the globe are suffering from acute food shortage during the lockdowns. In Nairobi, Kenya people have been sleeping empty belly for days; and when the government supplied with ration to the residents they were so eager that they set off a stampede. In the incident, 2 people died while various casualties were reported.
In India, the second-largest populous country; For keeping hunger a bay, thousand of daily wage migrant workers queue up daily for one time meal of the day.
In Columbia, poor houses hand red flag or any piece of red cloth on their houses for letting the government know that they are hungry.
How is this hunger crisis different from others?
In the history of mankind, there have also been a hunger crises from time to time. The cause of the hunger crisis before was wars, political instabilities, weather; and these crises happen in exiguous parts of the world at different times. But this time the crises is in a dire strait, one reason could be that it is arising globally at the same time.
This scarcity of food is happening at a time when the world’s economy was already facing hardship. In 2019 the world economy’s growth was 3% that was the lowest after the Global financial crisis. Furthermore, the collapsing of the oil prices led most of the businesses to head south. With the current situation, that slowdown was just the tip of the iceberg. Now the overseas workers are not able to send money to their home.
How the food scarcity problem varies from country to country?
John Swinnen, the director-general of International Food Policy Research Institution Washington says; there is no food shortage globally.
The poor countries especially which depend upon import of food will face problems. While those countries who export might face problems in the plantation, harvesting and transportation of grains.
Rich nations would not face any major problems related to the shortage of food; since there the food supply and distribution is, most of the times, automated and organized.
Developing countries usually are labour intensive. The pandemic would without a doubt make the supply chains in such countries more vulnerable than ever before.
Whom would the ongoing food scarcity hit hardest?
In India, Caracas and Venezuela there is an alarming increase in the number of the starving population during the corona outbreak. In various parts of the world, hunger has become more dangerous than the virus.
Refuges and people living in the conflicted zone would be hitten the hardest during the pandemic. The praxis of import substitution is helping a bit, but eventually, the non-agriculture bases countries would run out of grains if the ban on transportation goes on for a long time. This creates a very high probability of social discord amongst nations.
Problems, certain to occur
International Rescue Committee says that there have been some a surge in the price of food. The late delivery of seeds and farming tools in South Sudan, the Central African Republic’s distribution of food and various other reasons that have led this increment of the price.
People have started protesting for food. For example, People in Columbia living at the coastal state of La Guajira, have started protesting by blocking roads for the driving authorities to show that they’re in need of food. In South Africa, a few people were reported breaking into neighbourhood food Kiaska and attacking the police.
What is the solution?
A number of the charitable organisation have come forward to help worldwide. Along with this, most of the governments have created response funds to feed the poor. But this can expose people more to the virus so, Social distancing is needed to be followed strictly.
The International Food Information Council Foundation’s survey shows how people’s behaviour has changed in the outbreak. It revealed that about 60% of the people are buying more groceries and overstocking in case if there is any shortage of food. If we as capable people stop doing this then it would definitely be a help to the poor. The government would be able to serve more of them.
Some of the experts believe that the pandemic would be having a long term impact on the food supply chain. In a crucial time like this, One should understand the circumstances and support the government. And countries need to shift to import substitution for a long term surplus supply of food.