Combating the looming hunger pandemic
It is obvious to say that pandemic helps to create other pandemics. Corona pandemic is still going on wrecking the world unabatedly with its utmost cruelty except some countries who have shored up with their effective strategies against this dreading virus.Countries of the world are undergoing economic recession due to Covid-19 and many of them are tired of its relentless battering that lags them behind.
Economic recession across the globe exacerbates food insecurity and the vulnerable communities are bearing the most brunt of this. It is true that Covid-19 is not the single most contributor to hunger pandemic, rather many more wars and conflicts adding the dire consequence deepening the food insecurity. However, the unprecedented corona has worsened the global food crisis.
Certainly, the countries which are conflict-ridden and chronically food-deprived are succumbed to experiencing the most severity of hunger pandemic. For example,the African countries such as Nigeria, Somalia, the Sudan, and the Congo, etc are beset with many crisis including health, conflict or natural disasters contributing to increasing food insecurity and pushing them closer to hunger and famine.
Not only that, a great number of middle income and lower income countries are struggling to shore them up, already hit hard by hunger pandemic.
As of the report of 2019, two billion people experienced hunger or did not have regular access to nutrition and sufficient food, and 690 million were undernourished, with likely to make an additional 140 million people undernourished due to the emergence of Covid-19 disrupting the global food security.
Losing livelihoods has been common to notice in these days. In our country as soon as the pandemic hit hard, the government took many strategies to tackle the unprecedented situation. Certainly the government deserves the praise that it has tamed the disastrous look of Covid-19 with minimizing loss of lives despite many hardships it has undergone.
On top of that, though it was repeatedly assured by the government that the country had sufficient stock of rice and other consuming products, people belonging to affluent class did not pay heed to government's assurance, rather they stocked worriedly much more than what they would need, that helped skyrocket the price of the daily necessities and in many cases food availability in the market was disrupted.
This sort of behaviour of the affluent led to worsening food crisis and the people with poor income and those working in the informal sectors bore the dire catastrophe due to the sheer self-centeredness of the affluent communities as the products of the necessities rose sharply due to supply chain disruption and artificial crisis made by the fraud business people.
It is obvious that pandemic makes people self-seeking. History tells when the Ebola epidemic hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014, rice prices in those countries increased by more than 30 per cent.
However, World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls for global cooperation and solidarity to help the most vulnerable to recover from the crisis. It also calls on countries to build back better by making food systems more resilient to withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks.
Here the questions are pertinent to raise, is only the UN Food and Agriculture Organization responsible to mitigate the existing food insecurity amid the globe? Could they be able to stop hunger pandemic? Whether the answers of these questions may be yes or no, without united efforts of the world leaders, no doubt things get tougher to control.
To tackle the hunger pandemic it is imperative to take national and global initiatives. First of all, at the national level every country should adopt long and short term strategies such as emergency funds and relief packages for the downtrodden population, in this regard, addressing the low income and daily waged families should be given the priority.
Secondly, motivating the nation to begin the agriculture practices like family farming, rooftop farming, etc. Not a single open space should be left unused.
Thirdly, to address the long term crisis it finds no alternatives to food storage and preservation. Not only that, proper distribution would be another step to minimize hunger pandemic. Fourthly, it is a must to take lessons from the previous pandemics how food crisis at that time was eased. Fifthly, the affluent countries should impose no restriction to exporting foods for addressing the crisis immediately.
Sixthly, closely monitoring food prices and markets along with disseminating transparent information to strengthen government management over the food market, prevent people from panicking, and guide farmers to make rational production decisions would be another initiative.
Seventhly, developing international and national agricultural and food supply chains would be an approach to immediately mitigate the food crisis. More importantly, the situation demands no alternatives to investment from national and international levels to contain hunger pandemic that exists across the globe.
Alaul Alam teaches at Prime University