FAO director of Emergency and Resilience Division, Mr Dominique Burgeon in a photo above.
Covid-19 and the global lockdowns have posed serious threats to food security across the entire Southern Africa region which is already battling with drought caused by poor rains in the current cropping season.
A lot of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa rely heavily on imported food to meet their demand and these nations are likely to face disproportionate risk from supply chain failures, especially in the face of border-crossing closures due to Covid-19 pandemic.
United Nations agencies such as World Food Program was already feeding millions of people in Sub-Saharan countries which are suffering from a myriad of disasters which includes floods, drought civil wars, economic challenges, crop pest such as plagues of locusts and fall army worms.
The coming of Covid-19 pandemic has added another layer of hardship across the whole region.
In some parts of Southern region farmers are still recovering from the two devastating cyclones (cyclone Idai and Cyclone Dineo) that battered Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi last year and left thousands of people homeless and these people are in dire need of food.
In Zimbabwe alone to according to WFP more that 7.7 million people rely on food aid and the number of people is expected to increase due to 2019/2020 erratic rainfall.
To take of Somalia, one of the world’s most fragile countries is struggling to get food to people living in extremist-controlled areas.
Two months ago it (Somalia) was declared a national emergency over an outbreak of desert locusts that devoured more than 10 000 hectares of crops and pastures.
And this left millions of already vulnerable people at risk and there are in dire food shortages. And as they gather to try to combat the locusts, often in vain they risk spreading the virus a topic that comes a distant second for many in rural areas. Covid-19 has left both lives and livelihoods at risk.
To give one example, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia nearly 12 million people already found themselves in dire circumstances as a result of extended severe droughts and back-to-back failed harvests before hordes of desert locusts descended on their crops and pastures in early January.
In a statement FAO director of Emergency and Resilience Division, Mr Dominique Burgeon said Covid-19 is promising a looming food crisis, unless measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable.
“Even before Covid-19 hit, millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa were already struggling with severe acute food insecurity due to pre-existing shocks or crises. This means they were already on the extreme end of the hunger spectrum-weak, and less well-equipped to fend off the virus.
“The vast majority live in rural areas, and depend on agricultural production, seasonal jobs in agriculture, fishing, or pastoralism.
“If they become ill or constrained by restrictions on movement or activity, they will be prevented from working their land, caring for their animals, going fishing, or accessing markets to sell produce they are likely to face serious food insecurities,” he said.
In the above two photos people shown facing food shortages.
Speaking in a workshop meeting on Wednesday International Food Policy Research Institute director Mr Johan Swinnen said that due to global lockdowns farmers are going to face challenges of market to sell their produces, hence a solution is needed.
“Vulnerable groups also include small-scale farmers, pastoralists, and fishers who might be hindered from working their land, caring for their livestock, or fishing. They will also face challenges accessing markets to sell their products or buy essential inputs, or struggle due to higher food prices and limited purchasing power.
“Informal labourers will be hard hit by job and income losses in harvesting and processing. Millions of children are already missing out on the school meals they have come to rely upon, many of them with no formal access to social protection, including health insurance,” he said.