COVID-19 Is Pushing 265m People Into Acute Hunger, WFP Warns

309 views | Akanimo Sampson | April 22, 2020

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the rampaging COVID-19 will push 265 million people into acute hunger by the end of 2020.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Speaking on Tuesday as it and other partners released a new report on food crises around the world, the UN agency said the COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020.

The number of people facing acute food insecurity (IPC/CH 3 or worse) stands to rise to 265 million in 2020, up by 130 million from the 135 million in 2019, as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, according to a WFP projection. 

The estimate was announced alongside the release of the Global Report on Food Crises, produced by WFP and 15 other humanitarian and development partners.

In this context, the food assistance programme must be maintained, including WFP’s programmes which offer a lifeline to almost 100 million vulnerable people globally.


Some 265 million people in low and middle-income countries will be in acute food insecurity by the end of 2020 unless swift action is taken (Source: WFP projection).

The majority of people suffering acute food insecurity in 2019 were in countries affected by conflict (77 million), climate change (34 million) and economic crises (24 million people). (Source: Global Report on Food Crises).

10 countries constituted the worst food crises in 2019: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela (the Bolivarian Republic of), Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, the Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti. (Source: Global Report on Food Crises).

South Sudan had 61 per cent of its population in a state of food crisis (or worse) in 2019. Six other countries also had at least 35 per cent of their populations in a state of food crisis: Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Syrian Arab Republic and Haiti. (Source: Global Report on Food Crises).

These ten countries accounted for 66 per cent of the total population in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or 88 million people. (Source: Global Report on Food Crises).

WFP’s Senior Economist, Arif Husain said: “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. 

‘’It only takes one more shock-like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe.”

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