As per a report by the United Nations, the world is facing multiple famines of “biblical proportions” in just a matter of months. United Nations World Food Programme chief David Beasley told United Nations Security Council that, “It is critical we come together as one united global community to defeat this disease and protect the most vulnerable nations and communities from Covid-19.”
— World Food Programme (@WFP) April 21, 2020
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of United Nations, tweeted from the official account that Covid-19 could push more than 26 crore people into the hunger of millions of them in the poorer countries could die of famines. “COVID19 could push 265 million people into acute hunger by the end of 2020. We have the tools and the know-how to defeat hunger and malnutrition. What we need is political will & commitment,” tweeted Guterres.
#COVID19 could push 265 million people into acute hunger by the end of 2020.
We have the tools and the know-how to defeat hunger and malnutrition.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 21, 2020
The Guardian, the UK based newspaper reported that Britain is already facing a hunger crisis due to lockdown as 1.5 million (15 lakh) Britons go without food all day. There are 3 million people in the UK who are forced to skip some meal, as they cannot afford it. “This needs urgent and substantial investment from central government which needs to put money directly into the pockets of families who can’t afford food,” said Anna Taylor, director of YouGov poll, which carried out a poll on the number of people sleeping without food.
Sabine Goodwin, the coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said the situation is spiralling out of control and the government is too slow to respond. “Food banks in our network are seeing as much as a 300% increase in footfall compared to this time last year but are still struggling to source enough appropriate food,” she said.
The world is facing the first case of famines in more than seven decades after Bengal Famine of 1943 in which more than 30 lakh people were killed. However, this time the West European and East African countries are facing a major problem, not the food rich South Asia or other Asian countries.
In East Africa, the attack of locust has destroyed crops in many countries and therefore millions of people are at the risk of dying from hunger. On the other hand, in Western Europe, the economy has collapsed due to lockdown and therefore poor people are not being able to afford food.
“In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation,” said Beasley. There is “a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself,” he added.
Amid the Coronavirus induced lockdown, most interdependent economies are poised to hit hardest. The city nation-states like Singapore and Hong Kong (partially with China), which facilitate global trade and global finance, will witness a double-digit decline in economic growth.
Other countries like the United Kingdom, United States and China, which have interconnected financial system and depend on global trade, investment, and exports for economic growth, would be painfully hurt.
In most of the Western countries, there is no saving culture given the economic security provided by the state. The public goods are provided by the state and therefore people spend the majority of their earnings. As US policymakers repeatedly point out- The world saves so that American can spend.
But this culture of exuberance has come back to haunt the Western countries as Covid-19 has already weakened the state capacity and lockdown destroyed the economy. Now, people in developed countries like the United Kingdom have to skip one meal or are forced to live the whole day without food. The western countries, with all their excesses, would never have imagined that their citizens would be forced to live without and there would be realistic chances of dying from hunger in future.