CERF supports FAO in preventing and responding to the impact of COVID-19 on food security

CERF supports FAO in preventing and responding to the impact of COVID-19 on food security

29/04/2020

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is already directly affecting food systems through impacts on food supply and demand, and indirectly through the decreases in purchasing power, the capacity to produce and distribute food, and the intensification of care tasks all of which will more strongly affect poor and vulnerable populations. Countries with existing food crises are particularly exposed to the effects of the pandemic because any further disruption to food production (i.e. in the form of reduced availability of critical inputs or restricted access to lands or markets) could be catastrophic for vulnerable populations.

In Afghanistan, rapid assessments are showing that there is going to be a high humanitarian caseload linked to the pandemic. This is mainly due to returnees from Iran, which has a high number of COVID-19 cases, the weak public health system, with minimal capacity (limited testing, screening, protective equipment and quarantine/hospitalization facilities) and the high rate of movements within the country.

In Burkina Faso, where the results of the latest Cadre Harmonisé analysis (March 2020) projected over 2 million people to be facing severe acute food insecurity during June August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the Government at the beginning of March. The crisis will considerably hinder economic activities and humanitarian access. This is expected to significantly reduce incomes and agropastoral production, due to limited employment opportunities, and access to fields and inputs; and disrupt the transport and supply of food to markets, potentially increasing food prices, and reducing food availability and accessibility.

In Haiti, the pandemic hits the country at a time when 4.1 million people are facing severe acute food insecurity (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, October 2019). Although the measures taken by the Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 are essential, they risk to threaten the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations. More than 45 percent of the food products consumed are imported from foreign countries and the closing of borders, the restriction of population movement, as well as the disruption of markets and supply chains, will lead to higher prices for basic foodstuffs. This will adversely affect poor households, whose purchasing power is already limited. 

Thanks to CERF funding, FAO is ensuring the continuity of humanitarian livelihood assistance by (i) trying to stabilize incomes and access to food, (ii) ensuring continuity of the critical supply chain, and (iii) ensuring that people along the food supply chain are not at risk of COVID-19 transmission. FAO is also preparing for further scale-up, in case of substantial increase in needs, as well as for post pandemic recovery. The main targeted groups in the three countries will be subsistence and small-scale producers, agricultural labourers, migrants, IDPs and refugees, vulnerable nomadic and semi nomadic pastoralists who will face movement limitations, and marginalized ethnic minorities and indigenous groups.