Just to add this to the list of disastrous consequences of the Wuflu: the UN’s food relief agency has warned that more than 30 countries in the developing world could experience widespread famine.
In fact, there are concerns that hundreds of millions of people could starve according to David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme. These concerns seem to be based upon a breakdown of transportation and supply chains so that food and equipment will not get to countries in need and a huge strain of resources from the pandemic itself in poorer nations.
Beasley is asking the UN Security Council to bring forward about US$2 billion in aid which has already been pledged and to spend more money ($350 million) in order to set up logistics networks to get food and medical supplies (including PPE) to where it is needed. Part of the concern is that the year was already shaping up to be extremely grim: remember earlier this year that East Africa had been hit by the worst locust swarms for decades?
Beasley worries that “this is a perfect storm. We are looking at widespread famines of biblical proportions.” A report produced by the UN has estimated that at least 265 million people are being pushed to the brink of starvation by the Wuflu (double the number under threat prior to the pandemic).
There is concern that countries will put in place export bans or other restrictions on the supply of food across borders. There is a concern that existing supply chains will be broken. At the same time, it will be hard for relief workers to work in lockdowns or to set air bridges when transport is paralysed.
The trouble is that most of the world has decided to smother its economy to stop the spread of the virus. This is going to badly damage economies throughout the world, leading to poorer health outcomes throughout the world as well as deaths of despair.
However, in the poorer parts of the world, this will be a disaster. Many of the gains that we have seen in the last few decades in rolling back extreme poverty and hunger will be lost. We should be weighing that up as well as we consider our next steps.