A new report from anti-poverty charity Oxfam warns that 20 million more people across the world have been pushed into extreme food insecurity because of the impact of Covid-19.
The report, The Hunger Virus Multiplies, published in July 2021, notes that a total of 155 million people across 55 countries are experiencing “extreme levels of food insecurity”.
Over 520,000 are living in “famine-like conditions” – more than six times the number experiencing such conditions at the outbreak of the pandemic eighteen months ago.
The economic impact of Covid-19 has joined global conflict and climate change as one of the main drivers of food poverty and famine.
Oxfam calculate that the rate of death from starvation is eleven people every minute, compared to seven people per minute dying from Covid-19.
“What we saw as a global health crisis has quickly spiralled into an inflamed hunger crisis,” says the report. “A year and a half since the pandemic began, deaths from hunger are outpacing the virus.”
Unemployment and food-price inflation lead to “spike in hunger”
The global financial downturn caused by the inability of economic activity – business, manufacturing, agriculture – to continue as normal has, says Oxfam, “led to a spike in hunger”.
Around the world 33 million people have lost jobs, while food prices have risen by 40%, factors which mean that food is often not affordable even where it is available.
Along with unabated global conflict and extreme weather events such as droughts, cyclones, flooding and swarms of locusts, food insecurity has worsened acutely in “extreme hunger hotspots” such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Nigeria, and the West African Sahel region, along with “emerging hunger hotspots” such as Brazil and India.
The report concludes that drastic measures are urgently needed to alleviate the suffering of hungry and impoverished people across the world.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org