COVID-19 has caused global economic disruptions that threaten global food supplies from Africa to Latin America to the United States
As government restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 have now been largely in place globally for most of 2020, international organizations are sounding the alarm that global starvation may be on the horizon due to food shortages and economic disruptions.
In Africa, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development warns that the continent suffers a new threat to food security: COVID-19. The continent, which imported 85% of its food in 2018, is facing a crisis as the costs of food skyrocket worldwide due to economic disruptions from the pandemic.
Elsewhere, in Latin America and the Caribbean, a collection of United Nations agencies are warning of rising hunger in a region already struck by food insecurity and right on the United States’ doorstep. The agencies warned:
The agencies said the pandemic follows seven years of slow economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, and could result in the biggest drop in regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in a century; a decline of -5.3 per cent.
This will push an additional 16 million more people into extreme poverty this year, in a region where nearly 54 million people were already experiencing severe food insecurity.
COVID-19 is also affecting food systems, with domestic food prices rising higher than other basic items. Increased unemployment means millions are unable to buy enough to eat, while many others are forced to find cheaper food that is less nutritious.