ICRA wants to underline the importance of the statements of the CFS Chairperson, Thanawat Tiensin and of the Interim Issues Paper on the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition rendered by HLPE.
The state of food security and nutrition was already alarming before the outbreak of COVID-19: an estimated average of 821 million people were undernourished, in low-income countries 12,9% of the population is undernourished.
This unprecedented and rapidly changing situation is likely to trigger a global economic recession. Beyond immediate health concerns, short-medium-and long term impacts are expected on food systems and on food security and nutrition (FSN).
COVID-19 has both direct and indirect impacts on FSN, and the final outcomes are dependent on the baseline situation of communities , countries and regions, as well on their resilience to shocks.
In any scenario, the most affected will be the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population; COVID-19 is increasing the unemployment levels and, as a consequence, poverty, particularly in the low-income and the most vulnerable groups.
At global level, there is a major risk that increased demand for public resource for internal emergency reduce contributions to Official Development Aid (ODA) to low- income countries, including fund for SDG2
We must not hide negative aspects that could be the result of changes taking place, both in terms of addressing the disease and the broader economic fall-out, food availability is affected in both the short-and long-term. Food access is also compromised, in particular for those working in sector that are likely to see job losses as well for the poor, who are likely to be made worse off.
Nutrition is likely to be affected as people shift diets to more affordable as more shelf- stable and pre-packaged foods (which is less nutritious, very often) and as fresh fruits and vegetable become less available due to panic buying ad disruptions in food systems. Market stability may be even more uncertain; lastly, people’s ability to exercise agency over their relationship to food systems is compromised as inequalities are increased.
The anticipated slowdown of economic growth is expected to increase hunger, thus slowing global effort in achieving SDG2 targets. The present crisis highlights existing challenges in food systems and emphasizes the need for improved resilience in food supply chains and in food systems more broadly.
Managing the COVID-19 pandemic requires a globally coordinated response, the CFS should take a lead role in coordinating the global food security policy guidance in response, in close collaboration with WHO, FAO, WFP and the UN Secretary General’s special envoy for the preparation of the 2021 World Food Systems Summit.
Government should prioritize the most vulnerable, to achieve social protection mechanisms taking into account the broader interactions with food security and nutrition, the likely competition between public health and food security.
National governments should support, by inquiring and in agreement with each other, local communities and citizens to increase local food production (including home and community garden) through appropriate stimulus packages (in cash and kind) to enhance food resilience, minimize food waste, and avoid over-buying to ensure equitable access to food for all communities members.
In this regard is very important what Thanawat Tiensin writes in his letter to the CFS:
“… we need to start planning for longer-term solutions to support recovery, strengthen preparedness, build resilience, and promote sustainable socio-economic development. To this end, CFS has created policy recommendations that can be put to use in this juncture, especially the Principles on Responsible Investment in Agriculture (RAI) and Food Systems, and various CFS policy recommendations such as on social protection, food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and smallholders and markets”.
When the CFS approved the RAI it seemed a simple tool to improve particular situations, but now the fragility that the pandemic has highlighted tell us that those principles must always apply, especially whenever investments are made by global players. COVID-19 made it clear that what was previously considered an opportunity is now a necessity everywhere, albeit in different ways depending on the situation; despite everything, despite our limitations, we can face this global pandemic like never before, another step towards the only human family.
This post will expire on Tuesday June 16th, 2020 3:25pm