Responses to Corona must not ignore hunger, UN warns
LAY-OFFS: United Nations has warned that coronavirus has morphed from a health scare to an economic component, forcing the global organisation to seek Sh35 billion to boost activities to combat hunger amid unfolding food crises prompted by the pandemic.
While actual impact of the pandemic has not been quantified, amid layoffs, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said people are struggling to access food with reduced incomes, as food prices surge.
Already, in Kenya’s urban slums such as Kibra, Mukuru and Kawangware, residents are struggling to put a meal on the table mainly due to reducing incomes as family members lose their jobs.
“Families here are going hungry as households lose their jobs in industrial area due Covid-19 pandemic.
Earnings from small businesses have also dropped as incomes for local residents plummet,” observed Mercy Mbithe, a resident of Mukuru kwa Njenga on the outskirts of Nairobi.
The UN agency noted that if farmers do not have access to their fields, or do not have the means or access to buy seeds and other inputs to plant or buy feed for their animals, planting seasons will be missed, cultivation will drop significantly and animals will be lost.
This means, it added, that less food will become available - in both rural and urban areas.
“We cannot wait until we finish dealing with the health impacts before we turn to food security. If we don’t start implementing livelihoods assistance now, we will face multiple food crises.
And a bill many times greater,” warned FAO Director-General QU Dongyu at a briefing.
Ramesh Rajasingham, FAO’s Emergency Relief coordinator, said it is becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic’s impacts go far beyond health.