New U.N. Report Warns Coronavirus Pandemic Could Cause 132 Million People to Go Hungry

A new report published by U.N. agencies reveals that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic could cause up to 132 million people to go hungry in 2020.

The findings were published in latest version of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World study, which is renewed annually by U.N. agencies, including the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

"Almost 690 million people around the world went hungry in 2019. As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems," UNICEF said in a statement while sharing the new report.

"While it is too early to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, at least another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020," they said. "The setback throws into further doubt the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal for zero hunger."

The report outlines the several ways COVID-19 has already begun to affect food systems and food security, including "delivering shocks to both the supply and the demand side of food systems throughout the world."

"The massive lockdowns across the world are expected to hamper people’s ability to access food and create serious economic downturns. This will make it difficult to afford food, particularly for the poor and vulnerable groups," the report states, adding that low- and middle-income countries will likely be the most affected because they do not have the contingency mechanisms and funds to stimulate their economies.

"As a consequence, a pandemic-induced global economic crisis is likely to generate new pockets of food insecurity even in countries that did not require interventions previously," it reads.

The study also says that while the economic recovery expected in 2021 would certainly bring down the number of undernourished, it's not clear by how much, and they predict the number will still remain above pre-pandemic expectations.

The World Bank similarly released a report last month detailing the pandemic's significant impact on poverty rates, revealing that COVID-19 could push up to 100 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.

"The global extreme poverty rate would increase from 8.23 percent in 2019 to 8.82 percent under the baseline scenario or 9.18 percent under the downside scenario, representing the first increase in global extreme poverty since 1998, effectively wiping out progress made since 2017," the report says.

Even with a slight decline in poverty expected in 2021 with the economic recovery, the organization said "projected impacts are likely to be long-lasting."

As of Tuesday, July 14, there are over 13 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and at least 572,746 reported deaths, per a The New York Times database.

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