About 132 million people could be pushed into chronic hunger as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report by the United Nations released on Monday suggests.
The UN urged governments to adopt a set of policy tools to help people afford quality, nutritious food.
“As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems,” UNICEF said in a statement.
“While it is too early to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, at least another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020,” the agency added.
The report said an economic recovery expected in 2021 would bring the number of undernourished people down — but it’s not clear by how much, and the number will remain above pre-pandemic projections.
World hunger had been declining for years before 2014, the U.N. reported but has shot up by nearly 60 million since then. It estimated that around 690 million people were undernourished in 2019.
Policies such as direct and indirect taxation that penalise food and agricultural production must be avoided, says the UN, as they tend to have adverse effects on the production of nutritious food and staples.
Asia has the highest number of hungry individuals. The report estimates that 381 million people there were undernourished in 2019 — more than half of the world total.
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