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COVID-19: WFP set to assist 138m hungry people in low, middle-income countries

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Says $ 4.9bn needed for 6 months operation in 83 countries

COVID-19: WFP set to assist 138m hungry people in low, middle-income countries

 By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The United Nations World Food Programme, WFP, on Wednesday, disclosed readiness to assist 138 million hungry people in low and middle-income countries to reduce impact of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic across the world.

This was made known in a statement signed by the management of the organization and made available to Vanguard, where it revealed that this move will be the ever largest number of people the organization intends to assist.

According to the statement, food is the best vaccine against chaos and without it, there could be increased social unrest and protests, a rise in migration, deepening conflict, and widespread under-nutrition among populations that were previously immune from hunger.

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It also pointed that to tackle the rising tide of hunger WFP is undertaking the biggest humanitarian response in its history, ramping up the number of people it assists to up to 138 million from a record 97 million in 2019.

The statement reads in part, “The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a massive rise in the number of hungry people it plans to assist around the world, as the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic push millions of more people into food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries.

“WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley said the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus is shifting from the rich world to the poor world.

“Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos. Without it, we could see increased social unrest and protests, a rise in migration, deepening conflict, and widespread under-nutrition among populations that were previously immune from hunger.

“To tackle the rising tide of hunger, WFP is undertaking the biggest humanitarian response in its history, ramping up the number of people it assists to up to 138 million from a record 97 million in 2019.

But sustained funding is urgently required to respond to the immediate consequences of the pandemic on the most vulnerable, and support governments and partners as they curb the spread of the disease and deal with the fallout from the pandemic.”

The statement further made it known that “Earlier WFP projections on the number of people who would be pushed into food insecurity by COVID-19 have now been refined with real-time monitoring and assessments.

WFP’s new estimates show that the number of hungry in the countries where it operates could increase to 270 million before the year’s end – an 82 percent increase from before the pandemic took hold.

“The crisis unfolds at a time when the number of severely food insecure people in the world had already risen nearly 70 per cent over the past four years, compounding the effects of climate change, conflict and socio-economic shocks in regions of the world that had previously escaped severe levels of food insecurity.

“The fallout from the pandemic is being felt hardest in Latin America, which has seen an almost three-fold rise in the number of people requiring food assistance, and among urban communities in low- and middle-income countries, which are being dragged into destitution by job losses and a precipitous drop in remittances.

Spikes in hunger are also evident in West and Central Africa which has seen a 135 per cent jump in the number of food-insecure people as well as in Southern Africa where there has been a 90 per cent rise.”

The organization also acknowledged that “Coronavirus infection levels are climbing at the very moment when food stocks in some parts of the world are already low.

At this time of year, many farmers are awaiting crops from new harvests. Hurricane and monsoon seasons are getting underway, while record locust invasions in East Africa and outbreaks of conflict are adding to an already challenging outlook for the world’s hungry.

“This unprecedented crisis requires an unprecedented response. If we do not respond rapidly and effectively to this viral threat, the outcome will be measured in an unconscionable loss of life, and efforts to roll back the tide of hunger will be undone”, Beasley noted.

However, the organization made it clear that sustained funding is urgently required to respond to the immediate consequences of the pandemic on the most vulnerable, and support governments and partners as they curb the spread of the disease and deal with the fallout from the pandemic.

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Meanwhile, the statement added that “WFP is appealing for a US$ 4.9 billion over the next six months for its life-saving work in 83 countries.

“The new face of hunger requires specialised responses, with a big increase in the use of cash-based transfers, and a heavy focus on urban settings.

Over half of WFP’s new response plan will be delivered in cash and vouchers – allowing urban communities to meet their food needs in local markets – while providing a stimulus to economies.

“As well as delivering life-saving assistance on the front-lines of hunger, WFP is uniquely positioned to help governments assist and empower vulnerable communities through support to social protection systems, access to basic school-based and nutrition services, and support to food systems.”

Vanguard

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