UN urges countries to prepare for global food emergency

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Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees speaks during a press conference at the Launch of the Regional Flash Appeal Following recent events in Libyan Arab Jamahiri

MANILA – Soon after the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the world may face another formidable foe—food scarcity.

In a published report on June 10, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries to build food systems to improve their people’s access to healthy and nutritious food as food supply chain has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He made this advice based on the results of the policy brief conducted by the UN on the impact of the virus on food security and nutrition in world.

According to the brief, the world faces an impending “global food emergency,” which is defined as “an extraordinary situation in which people are unable to meet their basic survival needs, or there are serious and immediate threats to human life and well-being,” as hundreds of millions of people were suffering from hunger and malnutrition before the pandemic hit.

Guterres noted that an estimated 820 million people would go hungry, including 144 million children, whose growth would be stunted because of malnutrition.

He further said, “This year, some 49 million people may fall into extreme poverty due to the Covid-19 crisis.  The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand.  Every percentage point drop in global gross domestic product means an additional 0.7 million stunted children.”

He also urged nations to mobilize to save lives and livelihoods by designating food and nutrition services as “essential” and ensure protection of food workers. “And let us rebalance the relationship between food systems and the natural environment by transforming them to work better with nature and for the climate,” Guterres said.

The call of the UN is timely as the Philippine government through the Department of Agriculture has provide stimulus funds for food security of the country.  The DA has many programs aimed at raising the productive of rice farmers, support to coconut farmers, vegetable farmers and farm workers who are gravely affected by the pandemic.

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