As the COVID-19 crisis is rapidly spreading across the world with a heavy toll on human lives and livelihoods, the pandemic could have a devastating effect on millions of people who are already suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Malnutrition weakens the immune system, which could make affected-people more vulnerable to COVID-19. Projections from the International Labour Organizations indicate that as many as 305 million jobs could be lost as a result of the pandemic. And this does not include nearly 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy significantly impacted by the crisis: in Africa, wages for informal workers risk falling by more than 80%. With losses of income, nutritious foods - often more expensive - are the first to be cut out of family diets. This is especially worrisome for the poorest people, who often rely on daily wages from casual labor and have little to no savings.
Disruptions in the food supply chain and market closures could further impact people’s access to food, while nation-wide school closures is already depriving children of school meals, the only source of nutrition for many of them. The delivery of humanitarian and development programs is also adversely affected by movement restrictions, especially community-based programs such as nutritional behaviour changes interventions needed to prevent malnutrition.
Now more than ever, we are dedicated to ensuring people suffering from malnutrition have access to nutritious foods and we are working to develop innovative solutions to support increased prevention efforts. We join the United Nations’ call for global solidarity in support of the world’s most vulnerable countries efforts to scale-up their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
For additional information on the impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition, the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement has compiled resources from leading food security and nutrition institutions: https://scalingupnutrition.org/covid19/