lair25_Majdi FathiNurPhoto via Getty Images_UNfoodaidcoronavirus Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Building Food Security During the Pandemic

Protecting food supply chains is the key missing component of an effective COVID-19 strategy. Global partnerships – particularly among the private sector, governments, development banks, and farmers’ organizations – must be established rapidly to prevent a catastrophic food crisis in developing countries.

LONDON/NAIROBI – Every year, some nine million people worldwide – equivalent to the population of Austria – die of hunger or hunger-related diseases. That is tragic enough, but COVID-19’s disruption of food supply chains risks doubling this number in 2020.

This is the hidden cost of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will fall on the poorest and most vulnerable. To prevent these avoidable deaths, we must first recognize that Africa, South Asia, and other poorer regions cannot go into lockdown or seek to contain the disease by mimicking measures adopted in the West. Instead, they must find their own way to balance the risks of the virus with the risks to livelihoods and lives arising from attempts to defeat it.

Above all, however, the international community must act now to keep food supply chains operating. Otherwise, for the poorest parts of the world, the unintended consequences of the cure will be worse than the disease.