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43. FAO: Addressing the Impacts of COVID-19 in Food Crises

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On May 18, 2020, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published the report “Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in food crises April–December 2020”, urging the need for emergency assistance by the international community.

Here are some excerpts from the HP article.

According to the 2020 edition of the Global Report on Food Crises published in April, in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 135 million people experienced food crisis and an additional 183 million people were estimated to be one step away from severe food insecurity condition. 

When a pandemic progresses in the context of a food crisis, the availability of and access to food in both urban and rural areas will be disrupted at the same time, and there is a real concern that multiple regions will face famine at the same time. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 27 million people were in urgent need of assistance, and these people could be devastated by the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic. Populations in northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen could face famine due to the pandemic, and around 3.5 million people in Somalia are expected to face food crisis, three-fold increase compared to early 2020.

The report emphasized that preventing the food crisis could not wait until the resolution of the health crisis so precautionary measuresmust be taken urgently to protect lives and improve access to food especially in areas that are already experiencing food crises due to conflicts, climate change and economic crises. 

Urgent action is required to address these issues because activities such as farming, livestock movement for pasture and for water, and harvesting could not be put on hold during the fight against the virus. Without support to agriculture, many vulnerable people will beforced to rely on humanitarian assistance only to survive. In order to protect the dignity of millions of people living in agriculture, it is not only cost effective but also humane to take the action to avoid the worst.

The Global COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan is being coordinated to support COVID-19 emergency assistance to the non-healthcare sector. In particular, an allocation of US$1.6 billion to the food security sector is the largest component of the total. Of these, FAO has called for US$350 million to address the emerging challenges of COVID-19 and to provide support to areas already in crisis.

The report also mentioned that FAO will focus on the following four activities at the global, regional and country levels:

  • A global data facility to support data collection and analyses and inform evidence-based programming, contributing to FAO’s Hand‑in‑Hand initiative and associated data platform1. The data facility is being rolled out in close collaboration with key partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the global Food Security Cluster and the Global Network Against Food Crises partnership;
  • Stabilizing incomes and access to food as well as preserving ongoing livelihood and food production assistance for the most acutely food‑insecure populations;
  • Ensuring continuity of the critical food supply chain for the most vulnerable populations; and
  • Ensuring people along the food supply chain are not at risk of COVID‑19 transmission through awareness raising, social messaging and community mobilization, together with WHO and national authorities.



FAO HP. FAO Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in food crises April–December 2020 MAY UPDATE  

FAO Report (PDF)

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Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Research Strategy Office)