COVID PANDEMIC- What if people die of hunger rather than from coronavirus?

The coronavirus pandemic besides having an ever-increasing death toll, it has also been responsible for the elevated rate of food deprivation, acute hunger, and hunger deaths globally. Lock-down and quarantine have made the people not to attend the workplaces which eventually lead to the starvation for food.

Coronavirus is a “hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage”, says World Food Programme (WFP)’s Arif Husain. Acute hunger is a result of undernourishment over a particular period. It is one of the extreme forms of hunger which causes a result of crises like drought, wars, and disasters. People who are previously suffering from chronic hunger (if the body absorbs less food than it requires) are more likely to affect acute hunger. Every ten seconds, a child dies from hunger. 821 million people are going bed hungry every night, which is approximately ten percent of the world’s population. Two billion suffer from malnutrition, even after having sufficient food, knowledge, and resources for all. An estimating 135 million people in 55 countries face acute hunger due to conflict, the effects of climate change, and economic crises. This report was drawn prior to the emergence of the Coronavirus as a pandemic. The newly published Global Report on Food Crises 2020, says that nearly double the number i.e., lives and livelihoods of 265 million people from low and middle-income countries will be under threat if immediate actions are not taken to tackle the pandemic. This huge dissimilarity in the figures proves the devastating capability of this virus. Covid 19 and hunger Pandemic As we all know that, in order to reduce the pandemic effect of the corona, most of the countries are under lockdown worldwide. Eventually, there is no livelihood for the lower-income people resulting in acute hunger and hunger deaths. There is a disruption in supply chains due to quarantine regulations.

The founder of Infosys, NR Narayana Murthy said that, If lock-down remains to continue in order to stop the spread of Covid-19, India could see more deaths because of hunger than from corona. The Schools which provide meals for the children are closed resulting in furthermore food deprivation for young children. Reports have shown that for many children in the global south i.e. 85 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, no schools mean no more school meals. In some African households, it is the end of only a hot meal anyone in the family would get in a day. Countries like Northern Nigeria, South Susan, Syria, and Yemen don’t even need coronavirus as their lives are already hanging by a thread says World Food Programme ( WFP)’s Husain. A senior minister in Indonesia, Luhut Pandjaitan says “full lock-downs will only lead to more hunger, starvation, and death.” More than seven million children of Afghanistan are at risk of hunger as prices were increased because of Coronavirus.

A construction worker, Rekha Devi said,” We haven’t eaten for two days” and added “We are scared of this disease, but I think hunger will kill us and she added we will stay hungry, but how can we watch our children starve? On the other hand, an eleven-year-old Dalit boy from Bihar died due to hunger starvation amidst lock-down. These are the heartbreaking scenarios of coronavirus pandemic. World food program warned that the world is facing a Hunger Pandemic.

Why do people go hungry?

Hunger is avoidable still there are many reasons for the cause of hunger like wars and conflicts due to which roads and agricultural infrastructures like irrigation facilities are damaged and therefore it is difficult for trading and food becomes expensive. Natural disasters like droughts and floods destroy harvests. Poverty, due to which people cannot afford to buy food which leads to hunger. Inequality, half of the global fortune is enjoyed by only one percent of the world’s population leaving the “lower billion” of the poor and hungry having no opportunity to free themselves from the difficulties. Biased global trade, the rules of international policy are governed by rich states.

The exportation of raw materials is primarily done by the developed countries, wherein the profits are taken off by the so-called rich states making the developing countries still DEVELOPING. Poor Governance, the governments of developing countries don’t make the policies according to the needs of the poor people. Strategies to promote agriculture in their own country are lacking and on the other side corruption and land grabbing are the biggest problems. Along with all these, now there is corona pandemic which will leave more than a quarter of a billion people suffering acute hunger by the end of the year 2020. Hunger-Poverty Vicious Cycle Hunger and poverty are interrelated to each other, as hunger is the cause of poverty and vice versa. This passes from generation to generation making it a vicious cycle. If mothers are already undernourished due to poverty, there is a risk that their babies cannot develop well during the pregnancy, and subsequently, premature or underweight babies are born. Now that the baby is underdeveloped she/he turns out to be a malnourished child with a weakened immune system and also vulnerable to diseases.

Eventually, the physical and mental development of the child will also be poor resulting in poor school results and are more susceptible to chronic diseases in adulthood. Therefore, the earning capacity will reduce and the poverty increases and the cycle continues. According to Oxfam, the coronavirus outbreak threatens to push around half a billion people into poverty by the end of the year 2020. Tackling the food hunger The countrywide lockdown had increased the widespread hunger and poverty over the globe making it harder to fight against the corona pandemic. World food program warned that the world is facing a Hunger Pandemic. Governments must do everything in their power to keep trade routes open. Action Against Hunger is the world’s hunger specialist and leader in a global movement that aims to end life-threatening hunger. As governments prepare to help their economies recover from the coronavirus crisis, they should invest in making the food system more environmentally and socially sustainable.

To mitigate the coronavirus impact, Oxfam proposed a six-point action plan that would deliver cash grants and bailouts to people and businesses in need, and also called for debt cancellation and increased aid. Rich countries should help in this time of crisis to the poor countries. Debt relief calls have also been increased as the corona pandemic ruined the developing nations across the world. After all, food is a human right.

By Navya Gedela

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