The Right to Food

Ensuring the right to adequate food during COVID-19

News - 24.06.2020

24 June 2020, Rome- The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is affecting all the dimensions of food security and nutrition, according to the latest policy briefs published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). While it is true that the agri-food sector is likely to show more resilience to the crisis than other sectors, the pandemic is negatively impacting the human wellbeing and the full enjoyment of people´s human right to adequate food in all corners of the world.

As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, warned: “it is an economic crisis. A social crisis. And a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis”.

More than 820 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat. In many countries, the crisis caused by COVID-19 exacerbated existing drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition, such as conflicts and locust plagues. Finding adequate solutions to these burdens is a challenge for States.

“Actions taken to address the immediate consequences may not holdup or even be coherent as the pandemic continues”, explained Juan Carlos García y Cebolla, FAO Right to Food Team Leader. “Prioritizing sustainable development and putting human rights at the forefront brings better outcomes for everyone”, he added.

In this view of leaving no one behind, the Right to Food Guidelines can guide states on how to tackle COVID-19 consequences. This voluntary policy tool sheds light on the importance of inclusive political and economic dialogue in policy making. This refers to the participation from all stakeholders in the food system, among them the academia, parliamentarians, consumers and private sector.

Legislation and policies must meet the needs of the most vulnerable including women, children and informal workers. Food assistance and social protection help these groups put food in the table, given that they are struggling for daily income, the FAO Chief Economist, Máximo Torero, said.

Labour shortage and slowdowns operations, among other circumstances, are threatening the survival of some agri-enterprises, particularly small and medium producers. Therefore, another essential step is to strengthen the capacties for adaptation, especially for those who are likely to bear the greatest consequences of this crisis like. 

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