Conflict Alerts # 76, 23 April 2020
In the news
On 21 April, the Global Report on Food Crisis (GRFC) 2020 was released by the Global Network against Food Crisis. The report is a joint consensus-based assessment of acute food shortage situations around the world by 16 partner organizations. It provides a detailed analysis of the factors responsible for and contributing to the food crisis. The annual report brings out that though the harvest is better this year, there are many vulnerable populations who are left behind and will be a victim to severe food crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, almost 135 million people in 55 countries were identified to be in crisis conditions or worse. This marks the highest number in the four years since the GRFC was launched. While comparing the 50 countries that were in both the 2019 and 2020 reports, the population in crisis or worse rose from 112 to 123 million.
Issues at large
The report indicates that the primary driver of food insecurity is armed conflict or violence of all sorts and is largely prevalent in the Middle East and Asia. Africa accounted for the highest number of people who will be impacted by food scarcity due to weather and economic shocks.
The countries home to 135 million may face an excruciating dilemma in managing the deficit in food, leading to an impact on the lives or livelihoods of many. The acute food insecurity forecasts for 2020 were produced before the COVID-19 became a pandemic, but it is understood that the pandemic will have a considerable effect on the livelihoods of people, disrupting food supply chains and affecting the budgets aimed for humanitarian assistance.
The pandemic and the already existing economic condition will lead to a severe global recession. Either way, unemployment or underemployment will reduce the purchasing power of individuals, decreasing their access to food. There is a possibility of rising food prices due to a shortage of labourers, political unrest and the disruptions to the food supply chains.
It is given that the forecasts for 2020 were produced before the COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic and do not account for its impact on vulnerable people in a food crisis situation. Despite that fact, uncertainty with regard to the possible impacts of the pandemic is noticeable, which can double the food insecurity level and will be responsible for the diversion of resources from humanitarian assistance to the health sector. The report also looks at the all-inclusive perspective in identifying the areas of vulnerability and predicting the level of food insecurity in 2020.
There is an emphasis on protecting the critical food supply chain, advocating trade corridors to remain open and ensuring that there is access to food for those who are living in a vulnerable area.
Aarathi Srinivasan is pursuing her Masters in International Studies from Stella Maris College, Chennai