Somalia is currently experiencing multiple shocks, including Desert Locust, flooding and COVID-19
More and more people struggle to have access to or enough food in fragile countries
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is seeking $350 million to scale up hunger-fighting and livelihoods-boosting activities in food crisis contexts where COVID-19's impact could be devastating.
Although the pandemic's full-scale and long-term impact on food security is yet to be revealed, evidence shows that in countries already hit by acute hunger, people are increasingly struggling to have access to food as incomes fall and food prices rise.
If farmers do not have access to their fields, or do not have the means or access to buy seeds and other inputs to plant or buy feed for their animals, planting seasons will be missed, cultivation will drop significantly and animals will be lost. This means that less food will become available too - in both rural and urban areas.
"We cannot wait until we finish dealing with the health impacts before we turn to food security. If we don't start implementing livelihoods assistance now, we will face multiple food crises. And a bill many times greater," warned FAO Director-General QU Dongyu at a briefing today on the UN agency's revised humanitarian response to COVID-19.
"It's becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic's impacts go far beyond health," said Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.
"Acting early can prevent increasing vulnerabilities but also be a much more cost effective way of addressing this crisis. The role of emergency livelihoods interventions to save lives and livelihoods, and pull back people from the verge of famine is critical. Agriculture-based livelihoods are critical in most countries we work in as they are the main source of income for the majority of vulnerable populations. And this relies on seasons that cannot be missed or skipped," added Rajasingham.
"More and more global leaders are stressing that the pandemic could cost more lives in hunger than in those actually infected by the virus. The worst-case scenario is not a foregone conclusion, but we have to act fast - and at scale," said Dominique Burgeon, FAO's Director of Emergencies.
In Somalia, the latest data from the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit indicates around 3.5 million people are projected to be in IPC Phase 3 and above through September
New funding request to respond to growing needs
FAO's new funding request of $350 million is about three times more than in late March as COVID-19's staggering socioeconomic impacts become more evident.
Additional funding is urgently required to address new needs emerging from COVID-19. New activities will build upon critical livelihood-saving support currently being delivered, including:
Overall, FAO's humanitarian response to COVID-19 impacts will focus on: improving hunger data collection and analysis so that organisations can respond more effectively; maintaining food production, including through scaling up activities so that farmers can take advantage of coming plating seasons; ramping up support to post-production activities, like harvesting, storage, small-scale food processing and conservation, and linking producers to markets to ensure food supply chains stay functional; and, awareness raising so that people keeping food supply chains alive are not at risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Facts and figures on hunger and pandemic's impact on food security:
While there is a high potential for a significant rise in acute food insecurity at crisis level and above in the coming months, this is not inevitable.
"If we support livelihoods now we can help to reduce needs and avoid growing hunger. And protect the most vulnerable from the collateral effects of the pandemic," said Qu.
"Donors were generous and fast in responding to the desert locust upsurge during the past months. We need this continued generosity and advocacy to prevent a steep rise in acute hunger. Thank you for your action now," added the FAO-Director-General.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).