Saturday, May 16, 2020

COVID-19 - Let us not forget Africa

More than 43 million people in west Africa are likely to be in urgent need of food assistance in the coming months – double the initial estimates – as the Covid-19 outbreak accelerates, the World Food Programme has said.
Food insecurity could also double this year to affect 265 million people across the continent; west Africa, where the outbreak of the virus is most severe, is of increasing concern.
The region faces the three-pronged threat of surging jihadi attacks across the Sahel
and Lake Chad area, climate change harming vital food supply chains, and now the pandemic.  

The WFP had estimated a 70% rise in food insecurity to 21 million people in west Africa this year before the outbreak, but now anticipates a further 22 million becoming reliant on food aid by August, unless major steps are taken.
“Even before Covid we had a number of shocks which were affecting people,” said Dr Chris Nikoi, the WFP’s regional director for west and central Africa. “Food flows were already not optimal because of conflict across west Africa,” he said. Covid has exacerbated existing crises, presenting an immense challenge to food insecurity.
The World Health Organization also estimates that 65 million children are now having to do without a previously provided nutritious meal at school.

Measures to prevent the spread of the virus among displaced populations have been swiftly adopted, yet aid organisations say those measures have also increased hunger, as distributing support has become a greater challenge.

The economic pressures – particularly on the millions working in informal economies, earning daily wages – have diminished the capacity for governments to lock down cities without rapidly impoverishing large populations.

“Governments are having to put in place certain measures, lockdowns, restricted movements etc, which are making an already bad situation in some areas, in some contexts, worse,” Nikoi said.

A competitive global market for test kits, favouring higher prices and bulk purchases, significantly disadvantaged many African countries.

No comments: