Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in food crises

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in food crises


Since late 2019 early 2020, an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus – has rapidly spread across the world, devastating lives and livelihoods. As of late March 2020, the full impact of the virus on food security and agricultural food systems is not yet known, nor will likely be known, for months to come as the spread of the virus continues to evolve differently by continent and by country. What is clear is that it will have, and is already having, significant negative effects on people along the food supply chain – from producers to processors, marketers, transporters and consumers. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is particularly concerned about the potential impacts of the virus and related containment efforts on food security and livelihoods in contexts of high vulnerability and where populations are already experiencing food crises.

Experience from previous crises, particularly from the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa in 2014, has indicated the significant impact of movement restrictions and disease containment efforts on food production and access, and the importance of maintaining and upscaling humanitarian food security interventions for the most vulnerable populations, alongside the health sector’s efforts to avert disease spread.

Within the framework of the United Nations (UN) Global COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan, FAO has reviewed its ongoing humanitarian/resilience programming and analysed the potential impacts of the virus in order to ensure continued support to the most vulnerable and anticipatory actions to address the secondary effects of the virus.

As such, FAO is seeking USD 110 million to maintain the provision of critical assistance where there are already high levels of need, while meeting new needs emerging from the effects of COVID-19. Within the Plan, FAO’s efforts will focus on four main activities:

  • Setting up a global data facility – in close collaboration with key partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the global Food Security Cluster and the Global Network Against Food Crises Partnership Programme – to support analysis, and inform assessments and programming in contexts already experiencing humanitarian crises (USD 10 million)
  • Stabilizing incomes and access to food as well as preserving ongoing livelihood and food production assistance for the most acutely food‑insecure populations (USD 60 million)
  • Ensuring continuity of the critical food supply chain for the most vulnerable populations, including between rural, peri-urban and urban areas through support to the sustained functioning of local food markets, value chains and systems, focusing on vulnerable smallholder farmers and food workers as well as areas that are critical to the food supply for vulnerable urban areas (USD 30 million)
  • Ensuring people along the food supply chain are not at risk of COVID‑19 transmission by raising awareness about food safety and health regulations, including rights, roles and responsibilities of workers, together with national authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) (USD 10 million)