After the Lockdowns, a Global Hunger Crisis (And the Mother of All Migrant Crises)

Another 130 million to be pushed into a state of acute hunger — by the biggest man-made disaster since the Great Leap Forward

“Analysis from the World Food Program shows that refugee outflows increase by 1.9 percent for each percentage increase in acute hunger. As acute hunger is set to rise by nearly 50 percent, the scale of global movement can barely be imagined”

The [irrational response to the] coronavirus pandemic and its punitive economic effects are about to set off the next global hunger crisis.

In the last four years, conflicts, climate change and economic instability raised the number of people suffering acute hunger — when the absence of food endangers people’s livelihoods and, in some cases, their lives — from 80 million to 135 million people. The pandemic could drive 130 million more people into that state by December. More than a quarter of a billion people are likely to be acutely hungry in 2020.

Rising Hunger

The [irrational response to the] coronavirus pandemic could see millions more hungry this year due to a confluence of factors including unemployment, declining exports and war.

Workers employed in the informal economy and in service and manufacturing sectors are particularly vulnerable. Many have already experienced job losses during extended lockdowns: A staggering 94 percent of the global work force live in countries where workplaces have been closed. According to the International Labor Organization, the [irrational response to the] pandemic will have caused a loss of working hours in April, May and June equivalent to that of 305 million full-time jobs.

What’s more, economic contraction and job losses in major economies such as the United States, Russia and the Gulf countries deliver a serious financial blow to numerous countries that rely heavily on overseas remittances — substantially threatening their food security.

In Haiti, remittances mostly from the United States make up almost 37 percent of the gross domestic product. In Nepal, remittances form 27 percent of G.D.P., 67 percent of which comes from migrant workers in the Gulf countries. And in Tajikistan, where remittances are 28 percent of the G.D.P., 76 percent comes from migrant workers in Russia. As the economies of the host countries suffer, remittances to low- and middle-income countries could fall this year by 19.7 percent, according to the World Bank.

It’s not just remittances. The pandemic’s effect on countries dependent on exports of crude oil, such as Venezuela, Angola and Nigeria, also exacerbates global hunger. Oil prices crashed in the third week of April when the markets realized the severity of the pandemic’s economic consequences. The virus has suspended most transportation and grounded the airline industry, a major consumer of crude oil. And the expected global recession will shrink the industrial sector, another big consumer of oil, further slashing demand.

Crude oil accounts for about 84 percent of Venezuela’s merchandise exports, 96 percent in Angola and 94 percent in Nigeria. Given their reliance on oil, the fall in prices translates into lack of funding for infrastructure, health care and wages. And a consequent increase in hunger.

The decline in export revenues and incoming remittances creates greater challenges for food-importing countries like Ethiopia, Lebanon, Malawi and Solomon Islands, which will find it difficult to foot their import bills, risking significant currency devaluation and inflation.

Relying on fuel exports in a declining market

Countries like Angola and South Sudan, where a large share experience acute hunger, are also dependent on fuel exports. That could imperil their economies as the fuel market declines.

And then there are the wars. As the [irrational response to the] pandemic disrupts food supply chains, the effects on people trapped in war zones, who almost completely rely on humanitarian assistance, are likely to be catastrophic.

In Syria, 6.6 million people were living with acute hunger at the end of 2019. An additional 2.7 million people, according to our data, joined their ranks in the first three months of this year. That makes 9.3 million Syrians struggling with the higher cost of food, mass unemployment and a destroyed health care system.

On Tuesday, the Syrian pound hit a record low of 3,000 against the dollar in the black market. Almost 32 percent of Syrians are eating insufficient quantities of food or skipping meals. Our projections indicate that the conflict, combined with the effects of the pandemic, will force another half a million people in Syria into acute hunger by the end of the year. [And how many by new US sanctions?]

In countries already besieged by climate crises and economic instability, the pandemic is making hunger much worse. In Zimbabwe, about 3.6 million people were already facing acute hunger in December. By March, the number rose to 8.9 million, according to our data, because of an extreme drought and the country’s economic crisis.

The lockdown imposed to battle the virus crippled the informal sector in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere. The official unemployment rate has risen from 11 percent in December to a staggering 90 percent after the lockdown. By mid-May, nearly 5.6 million Zimbabweans were coping by reducing portion size or skipping meals. And at least 800,000 more will become food insecure by the end of the year because of the loss of purchasing power from unemployment and reduced remittances.

Relying on food imports raises risk

Many countries that are highly dependent on food imports, like Afghanistan and Haiti, also have high numbers of people experiencing acute hunger.

Throughout history, when people have faced wars, natural disasters and unbearable hunger, they have migrated in the hope of finding safety, food and opportunity. That’s true today. There is a high probability that we will soon see a wave of refugees, compelled by the economic effects of the coronavirus, leaving their countries and trying to reach the United States and Europe.

Syrian refugees in Europe and Central American refugees on the United States border are stark reminders that people will make arduous journeys in hopes of a better life when they are left with nothing at home. Analysis from the World Food Program shows that refugee outflows increase by 1.9 percent for each percentage increase in acute hunger. As acute hunger is set to rise by nearly 50 percent, the scale of global movement can barely be imagined.

Famines are not about food availability; they are about physical and economic access to food. The pandemic has worsened both, placing commercial transport under severe pressure and reducing purchasing power.

Governments need to ensure that the production and supply of food is not disrupted. If farmers can’t plant or harvest, if seeds and fertilizer are not available, if agricultural produce cannot reach markets, it will create dangerous food shortages.

We can stop the coming global hunger crisis from getting worse through global collective action to save lives and protect livelihoods. Political solutions to conflicts, climate adaptation on the ground and reducing income inequality will go a long way to building resilient communities and nations.

Arif Husain is the chief economist at the United Nations World Food Program.

Source: The New York Times

  1. Common Sense says

    …where is Jesus Christ to save the world? …perhaps Jesus never existed?

  2. voza0db says


    The SRF & Billionaires & jesters are going to have a nice gathering next January, where They will come up with an awesome resolution for Their problems.

    They call it: “The Great Reset”
    Already with a promotional video…

    In the mean time just be a f u c k i n g GOOD moron slave and just

  3. renevers says

    Zimbabwe had ample rain, last half year, so it could have generated a crop. It was very dry the year before. The reason for the hunger is the disorganization of the agricultural sector: the destruction of white ownership of farms by the socialist government under Mugabe. South Africa is still very dry.

    The hunger In Zimbabwe is also not because of climate change, but is the result of state (socialist) policies. Zimbabwe can feed 30 Million+ people when, well managed and it did so under Ian Smith’s government when it was called Rhodesia. South Africa and Zimbabwe face dry periods from time to time, it has nothing to do with man made (anthropogenic) climate change, but is related to climatic cycles. The NYT always hides blunders and bad results of policies by socialist governments and promotes the unscientific “climate change” agenda. It hides poverty because of overpopulation, and low average IQ of Africans. The NYT writings are in general just one big lie, with a socialist agenda. It is socialist propaganda combined with climate Lysenkoism. It is promoting imperialism for the sake of socialism.
    The dryness of Zim was not correct as reason for hunger there and is a just another NYT lie. The NYT supported the racist policies of Zim and South Africa to take land away from successful white ownership farms. South Africa will follow as it goes on the same disastrous route of land reform which is taking land without compensation. South Africa is spiraling down economically under the black racist and communist ANC and it is tapping its last money reserves. It is destroying its last infrastructure and production and will go hungry not because of potential but because of man made crises. Socialism needs the COVID lie , for the disasters it created. The big state Covid Measures in South Africa are worse than the disease and has destroyed business.

    1. plamenpetkov says

      yet another guy, deliberately confusing corporatism with socialism. the 2 are nothing alike. I should know, I lived under socialism for 18 years of my life. i was never hungry, never without medical care and i lived in a crime free environment. Plus surprise surprise, we had no homeless and beggars on the streets. Nobody was rich, but nobody was a poor beggar either. You cant tell me any different, I lived there.

      Corporatism is totally diff than socialism. in corporatism, its all for the 0.01%.

      You shouldn’t compare Africa with communists countries either. Africa’s problems are totally diff. Africa has been savagely exploited for the last 500+ years and deliberately left in total ruins.

      1. DemocrapSocialistsSuck says

        Suuure you did, why did you leave then if it was so great liar?

        1. francis dec says

          Maybe socialism left plamenpetkov’s country? Plus sides to communism, Ostalgia.

      2. Fog of War says

        ” been savagely exploited for the last 500+ ”

        What was their excuse prior to those ” 500 ” years ?

      3. Padraigin Eagle says

        Left wing, right wing, parroting: yet another guy not realising that all the isms originate in the same Khazar Masonic Jesuit hidden hand factory, communism, socialism, capitalism, Bolshevism, fascism, Marxism, liberalism (libtardism), feminism (nothing feminine about it), designed to create divide and fool, deride and rule, and Hegelian schism, but then Big Brother hast never been at war with Eurasia and he’s always been at war with Eastasia, and did I mention that all the world’s a stage and you are being played, Goldstein down the schlenter, Orwell inverted the centre.

  4. cechas vodobenikov says

    accurate—geographers observe that agricultural output approximates 150% of that required to feed the world population each year. Distribution creates famine, not production….Many nations over-produce and export agricultural products—Brazil, Argentina, USA, Russia, Uzbekistan, etc. Some nations overspecialize or are challenged by drought, poor conditions, harsh weather, large urban populations. Japan, , as does China, Cuba, Mexico, Denmark etc import as do some African nations—richer nations can pay…sanctions interfere—the US sanctions imposed on Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Nort Korea Palestine are a few examples….this is compensated for by humanitarian aid provided by Russia, China and some European, Asian nations. The most vulnerable nations are in Africa, where colonialism installed despots and droughts and infestations, local conflicts(Kenya) devastate agriculture. Again modeling food insecurity many be somewhat reliable when the US embargoes and sanctions civilized peoples, but likely these models will fail–and if not humanitarian aid must be provided without the strings the US attaches

    1. Emmet Sweeney says

      And your point is?

      1. Fog of War says

        ” And your point is? ”

        Its always the white men’s fault in his mind.

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