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The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is looking to raise $350 million in the field of food crisis hunger-fought and livelihood promotion where the effects of COVID-19 can be devastating. While the complete and longer-term impact of the pandemic on food security still has to be revealed, data shows that people are struggling to have access to food in countries that have been affected by acute hunger with lower wages and higher food prices.

The UN agency’s updated humanitarian action on COVID-19 was warned by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu during today’s briefing that it would not be enough to stop us dealing with the health consequences before focusing on food security. “If we don’t start providing livelihood assistance, we would face a range of food crises. If farmers have no access to their fields or have no means or access to seeds and other feed supplies, planting season will be ignored and livestock will be lost in seasonal planting. In rural and urban areas, less food will also be available.

Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator said, “It is becoming clearer and clear that the impacts of the pandemic go far beyond health. Early action can avoid increased distress but can also provide a much more cost-effective approach in resolving this crisis. It is crucial that initiatives in the field of emergency livelihoods are required to save lives and livelihoods and to pull people back from hunger.”

New Funding Request to Respond to Growing Needs:

With COVID-19’s alarming socio-economic effects, FAO ‘s latest $350 million funding request is almost three times more than at the end of March. The humanitarian response of the FAO to COVID-19 is part of the World Video Intervention Program (COVID-19).

Further support to tackle new COVID-19 needs is urgently needed. New programs are currently focused on vital sustainability funding, including:

  In South Sudan, FAO carried out its largest seed distribution so that farmers do not miss the main planting season. To date, FAO has distributed over 4 million kilograms of the procured and pre-positioned 8 million kilograms of crop and vegetable seeds, and over 100 000 agricultural hand tools to about 1,8million people. This means that each family can grow enough food for at least 6 months and sell some surplus. In addition, nearly 50 000 people received fishing kits.  
    In Somalia, FAO fully transitioned its cash assistance to mobile cash delivery, and, over the last 60 days, transferred over 4 million dollars in mobile money to help 200 000 Somalis access food and other basic needs. FAO has registered more than 2.1 million people on its Mobile Money Platform.
  In addition, 240 000 Somalis are receiving e-vouchers ​via SMS to get seeds, farm tools, irrigation service and storage bags from local traders. This way, FAO reinjects money into the local economy and avoids supply chain delays due to COVID-19.
  In Syria, FAO supported vegetable producers to set up nurseries, which are estimated to bring farmers an additional income of almost $2 000 per year.
  In Pakistan, FAO carried out an online campaign, engaging 160 000 people to learn about preventing food waste; and raised awareness, including through its farmer field schools, on how to stay safe of COVID-19 transmission.
  In Haiti, FAO distributed seeds and other inputs to nearly 50 000 people ahead of the main agricultural campaign

Data Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Overall, the humanitarian response from FAO to the COVID-19 effects focuses on improving the collection and analysis of hunger data, so that organizations can be more successful. The conservation of food production will be carried out, and this includes the creation of activities to allow farmers to benefit from coming plating seasons.

Facts and figures on hunger and pandemic’s impact on food security:

  There is a growing risk of famine in some countries, potentially even several famines occurring at the same time.  
  Even before the pandemic, some 135 million were experiencing crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity, out of which 27million people in “emergency” levels of acute food insecurity – on the brink of famine.  
  Somalia is currently experiencing multiple shocks, including Desert Locust, flooding and COVID-19. The FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) warned in May that some 3.5million Somalis are in “crisis” level of acute food insecurity and above through September 2020 – a three-fold increase compared to early 2020, over 100percent greater than hunger figures in an average year, and worse than in 2017, when there was a high risk of famine.  
  In Afghanistan, more than one in three Afghans – some 10.3million people- are projected to be acutely food insecure between June and November.  
  In Bangladesh, breakdowns in transportation systems are leading to the dumping of perishable food products and dramatic price reductions at the farm-gate, affecting producers’ food security.  
  In Southeast Asia, COVID-19 is overlapping with a subregional drought.  
  In Syria, since mid-March, there have been price increases of 40-50 per cent in staple foods.  
  For many high-risk countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the period between April and June coincides with the planting season for main crops.  
  Net food-importing countries (e.g. Caribbean countries, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela) are particularly vulnerable due to currency devaluation and trade constraints.  
  In East Africa and the Near East, where 42 million people are facing acute food insecurity, curving the desert locust outbreak is critical to safeguarding livelihoods and food security.  

Data Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

In general, the FAO’s humanitarian response to the effects of COVID 19 will focus on enhancing the collection and analysis of hunger data in order to improve organizations’ responses to it and continuing food production, including the scaling up of activities to allow farmers to benefit from future plating seasons. And also growing support for post production activities, such as harvesting, storage and small food processing.

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