For 15-year-old Angolan girl Cavo, her only option in the midst of the food crisis is to sell her body to afford food for her mother, who has a disability and cannot work, and her ageing grandmother. Cavo also goes to people’s homes to collect dirty clothes to wash, but the income is meagre. To survive the drought and food insecurity, she can only think of selling her body to earn money. However, she is often denied payment and may earn as little as US$0.4. Sometimes, her family must go to bed without eating. Cavo says she would rather be studying like her peers, instead of exposing herself to the risk of getting pregnant or diseases like HIV in exchange for food and her family’s comfort. The drought will pass, but the hurt and pain that it has brought Cavo will perhaps never heal.
Food Supply Devastated by the Pandemic
While locusts have severely impacted the production and supply of food, the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the past few months only adds misery to food supply of countries that have been affected by frequent natural disasters due to climate change.
“The unforeseen movement restrictions intended to stop the spread of the virus have impaired agricultural production and logistics, dampening the availability and supply of most basic food items in many places,” highlights Judy Ho. The restrictions also mean that there are no workers to farm and harvest, which has lessened domestic supply to meet the demands while pressure on global food markets spikes up food prices. As a result, food becomes even more unaffordable for the poor. In Thailand, rice prices hit a seven-year high, rising from $500 per tonne at the end of March to an average of $570 per tonne by April.
As work for farmers and migrant workers has been suspended, families are losing their income sources and suffering from lower purchasing power. Many have resorted to reducing the number of meals consumed each day to cope with food shortages, and their situation is very worrying.
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that, if no actions are taken, the combined impact of COVID-19, climate change and conflict will expose over 265 million people to a food crisis, almost doubling last year’s actual figures. Various African countries, including Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, Angola and Zimbabwe, have been bearing the brunt of climate change in recent years. These countries are experiencing more frequent disasters, such as droughts, floods, cyclones and locusts. An unbearable food crisis would be the most likely consequence should a COVID-19 outbreak occur in these countries.
What We Can Do
In response to the increasingly severe food crises, World Vision is conducting emergency responses in multiple countries across East and Southern Africa. We are providing basic necessities, such as food and clean water, for people in need, ensuring children and women are nourished and protected, and responding to any other emergency needs that emerge. Also, to curb the spread of the pandemic around the world, World Vision is currently responding in over 70 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh (including Rohingya refugees), Brazil (at the border with Venezuela), The Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Mongolia, The Philippines, Senegal, etc.