FEDERAL WAY, WA – On April 21, 2020, the World Food Program warned that “COVID-19 will double the number of people facing food crises unless swift action is taken.” Less than two months later, World Vision has published a report, “Out of Time: COVID-19 Aftershocks.”
The World Vision report affirms the World Food Program’s prognosis, saying,
“Without immediate action to protect people’s livelihoods now, the impact of this pandemic will reverse progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, and irreparably damage the lives of current and future generations of children.”
Immediately prior to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10 countries experiencing the worst food crises were Afghanistan, the DRC, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Sudan and South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela. Despite the dire conditions in these 10 countries, they represent only 66% of the total global population already living on the border of starvation.
The WFP took a long-term view, warning that, like most natural disasters, the recovery and aftershocks pose a continuing threat to food security. World Vision’s report reveals that access to nutritious food sources is already causing a hunger crisis for at least 110 million children. Another eight million children have been forced into begging or bonded labor.
We are in the midst of the crisis. The aftershocks won’t begin until the crisis has abated. There is, at this point, no end in sight to the extent of the tragedy faced by children living in poverty around the world.
The United Nations has estimated that “up to 66 million more children could fall into extreme poverty who were not counted among the 385 million counted prior to the pandemic. World Vision’s report anticipates “an increase in extreme poverty and hunger not seen for decades.”
Low-income families in overcrowded urban slums may face the worst of all possible aftershocks. Micro, small, and medium enterprises, often encouraged and developed by the gracious efforts of charitable NGOs, account for more than 80% of the jobs in developing countries. In Sub-Sharan Africa alone, 92% of these workers face reduced income due to decreased demand. With their revenue streams diminished, these families find themselves unable to repay the micro-loans used to fund their startup businesses.
The socio-economic aspect of the pandemic on financially marginal families is so great that nearly 70% of those surveyed said that they are earning less than half the wages they were making prior to the pandemic. Inevitably, they have little choice but to attempt to sustain a healthy supply of food for their families. When they reach that point, child labor, begging, and scavenging become a “necessary” means for subsistence.
World Vision has outlined a seven-point plan for joint collaboration of governments, donors, NGOs, UN agencies, and others to act before millions of families and children run out of time. The plan begins on page 15 of the 23-page report.
There is no better way to describe the need than to quote World Vision’s statement that
“It is critical for the world to act now in order to prevent a looming global food and poverty crisis as part of the COVID-19 response before children pay the price.”
- World Vision, Out of Time – COVID-19 Aftershocks report
- FEWS NET, COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts on Food Security
- World Food Program, COVID-19 will double number of people facing food crises unless swift action is taken
- Gospel for Asia, Photo of the Day