Thousands could die from Covid-19 related hunger

FILE PHOTO Picture:Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

FILE PHOTO Picture:Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 10, 2020


DURBAN - As many as 12,000 people could die per day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to Covid-19, potentially more than could die from the disease, warned Oxfam.

The report ‘The Hunger Virus,’ reveals how 122 million more people could be pushed to the brink of starvation this year as a result of the social and economic fallout from the pandemic including through mass unemployment, disruption to food production and supplies, and declining aid.

"Middle-income countries such as India, South Africa, and Brazil are experiencing rapidly rising levels of hunger as millions of people that were just about managing have been tipped over the edge by the pandemic," Oxfam said

The report painted a grim picture of SA's rapidly rising food insecurity, flagging a spike in unemployment and loss of income, and slamming retailers that indulged in price gouging.

"Weekly polling conducted since the start of lockdown has revealed that unemployment and loss of income is having a direct impact on food security.

One-in-three adults surveyed said they were going to bed hungry, and a fifth had lost weight during the lockdown because of a lack of food," the report stated.

According to the report, the problem was particularly bad in urban areas, the report noted that even before the pandemic struck, 13.7 million people living in SA did not have access to enough food due to high levels of unemployment, lack of access to assets such as land or fishing permits, and rising prices.

Oxfam’s interim executive director Chema Vera said: “Governments can save lives now by fully funding the U.N.’s Covid-19 appeal, making sure aid gets to those who need it most, and cancelling the debts of developing countries to free up funding for social protection and health care,”

“To end this hunger crisis, governments must also build fairer, more robust and more sustainable food systems that put the interests of food producers and workers before the profits of big food and agribusiness.”

The report cites 10 extreme hunger hotspots as areas of major concern: Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Haiti.

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