Rapid global food inflation and income collapse due to COVID-19 puts millions more lives at risk, warns new World Vision report

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Highlights:

  • 40% global food price increase forces poorest families to work eight days to afford basic daily food basket.
  • Three billion people have limited access to healthy food.
  • Hunger killing more people per day than COVID-19 — with acute hunger resulting in the death of 11 people every minute.
In countries like Somalia, increased levels of hunger and malnutrition impede the normal physical growth of young children as well as their intellectual capacity and social skills.
(September 23, 2021)
Today, on the first day of the UN Food Systems summit, a new report by aid agency World Vision warns that rapidly rising global food prices leading to increased levels of hunger and malnutrition, could have deadly consequences for millions of people living in the most vulnerable countries.

The Price Shocks report confirms that while food inflation has been global, it is the developing world that has become the most impacted. Between February 2020 and July 2021, food prices rose 4.8% in Canada, while prices increased in Myanmar by 54 per cent, Lebanon by 48 per cent and Syria by 29.2 per cent – affecting mainly people who could least afford it. 

Additionally, the report examined the cost of a basket of 10 staple items in 31 countries and found that Canadians would only need to work an average of one hour to pay for the 10 items, while people in Democratic Republic of Congo would have to work for 5.6 days. As a result, by 2022, the nutritional crisis from COVID-19 could result in 13.6 million more children suffering from acute malnutrition or wasting.

"Soaring food prices and devastated livelihoods have become life-threatening for millions of the most vulnerable children, whose families can no longer afford to put a basic meal on the table," says Michael Messenger, President & CEO of World Vision Canada. "There is enough food for everyone. It would be a catastrophic moral failure if governments and leaders do not act to strengthen supply chains and to empower families to fulfil their right to access nutritious food for their children."

The World Vision report found since the pandemic was declared, soaring food prices combined with lockdown-induced job losses and disrupted nutrition services have fuelled a global hunger crisis, with more people now dying each day from hunger than from COVID-19 itself. Acute hunger is estimated to kill 11 people every minute,[i] compared to seven people per minute from the coronavirus.[ii]

"The aftershocks of COVID-19 are exacting a greater toll on the world than the virus itself. The pandemic has led to job losses and lower incomes, forcing millions of families to skip meals to choose cheaper, less nutritious food, or to go without food altogether," says Lindsay Gladding, Director, Fragile and Humanitarian Programs, World Vision Canada. "Food insecurity combined with the impact of conflict and climate change has created the perfect storm - leading to what could be the worst hunger crisis in generations."

Other studies are also raising the alarm and estimating that by the end of 2022, the nutrition crisis caused by COVID-19 could result in 283,000 more deaths of children aged under five, 13.6 million more children suffering from wasting or acute malnutrition, and 2.6 million more children suffering from stunting. This would mean 250 children would die each day from pandemic-related malnutrition.

World Vision response to the hunger crisis, has already reached 12 million of the world's most vulnerable people in 29 countries with food and nutrition in 2020 alone. The NGO is calling on governments and donors to do everything in their power to respond to the impacts of food price increases and support the world's most vulnerable who are worst impacted.

Notes to editor:


Price surge percentages for certain countries, including Syria and Lebanon, vary depending on the items evaluated and currency strength.
 
[i] Oxfam, 2021, The Hunger Virus Multiplies: Deadly recipe of conflict, COVID-19 and climate accelerate world hunger, accessed July 2021.
[ii] Total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths from Sunday, 8 August 2021 to Saturday, 14 August 2021 was 68,141. This equates to an average of 9,734 deaths per day or 6.76 deaths per minute. See weekly or daily COVID-19 confirmed death data at: Johns Hopkins University, 2021, COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University (JHU), accessed August 2021.