The COVID-19 pandemic could double the number of people suffering from hunger to surpass a quarter billion by the end of 2020, the UN World Food Program (WFP) warned today, as WFP and other partners released a new report on food crises around the world.
According to WFP forecasts, the number of people facing acute food insecurity will rise to 265 million in 2020 as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, up from 135 million in 2019. The estimate was announced in conjunction with the release of the Global Report on Food Crises, prepared by WFP and 15 other humanitarian and development partners.
In this context, it is vital to maintain the food aid program, including WFP's own programs, which provide a lifeline for nearly 100 million vulnerable people worldwide.
An estimated 265 million people in low- and middle-income countries will be severely food insecure by the end of 2020 unless rapid action is taken (source: WFP forecast).
Most of the people suffering from severe food insecurity in 2019 were in countries affected by conflict (77 million), climate change (34 million) and economic crises (24 million). (source: Global Food Crisis Report).
The 10 countries with the worst food crises in 2019 are Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti. (source: Global Food Crisis Report).
In South Sudan, 61 percent of the population was in a food crisis (or worse) in 2019. Six other countries also had at least 35 percent of the population in a food crisis: Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Syrian Arab Republic and Haiti. (source: Global Food Crisis Report).
These ten countries accounted for 66 percent of the total population in crisis, or 88 million. (source: Global Food Crisis Report).
WFP Lead Economist Arif Hussein said:
“COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who have already faced poverty. This is a strong blow for the millions of people who earn their daily living. Quarantine and the global economic downturn have already wiped out the cash reserves. We must act collectively now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe.”