Biblical, on steroids, and across generations: The coming food and nutrition crash can be averted if we act now to counter the COVID-19 crisis
This expert opinion by Lawrence Haddad on the IFPRI website states that if the world does not start acting now, the COVID-19 pandemic will results in increases of all forms of malnutrition. It is suggested that the impact of COVID-19 on the number of people in acute hunger could be to increase current estimates of 135 million (already a record) by a further 130 million to 265 million. A 10% decline in global GDP projects an extra 180 million people living in extreme poverty, with 150 million in Africa and South Asia. This will lead to hunger, which demolishes the body; extinguishes hope; and strains the bonds of solidarity. But this is just one part of the food and nutrition story. The number of people who are not getting enough vitamins and minerals in their diet to prevent mortality and sickness (hidden hunger) is twice the number who are hungry. For the very youngest, those in the first 1000 days after conception, disruptions to their own supply chains is a disruption to their lifelines. If they don’t get the right “just in time” food, care, health care and water and sanitation, their immune systems will be compromised, their brain development impaired and their bone and muscle development undermined. Estimates suggest that a 10% decline in GDP per capita will lead to an increase of 5% in stunting rates, that means an extra 7 million stunted children. So what to do: 1) Act now. 2) Maintain coverage rates of essential nutrition programs and increase them. 3) Keep the supply of nutritious food moving and expand the flow, by supporting food system workers, keep SMEs from going under and keep markets open, and make supply chains more resilient. 4) Shore up incomes and food demand, which is the driver of food systems. Addressing hunger, hidden hunger, and child undernutrition IS a part of the COVID-19 response and will protect the youngest generation.