FAO in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Coronavirus may disrupt food supply chains, vulnerable households to feel worst impact: FAO


FAO warns that in many countries informal labourers, vulnerable urban populations and others that rely heavily on the market are likely to be hit by adverse effects of the coronavirus and COVID-19.

While the full impact of COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus that causes it on food security and agricultural food systems is still unfolding, it is clear that this outbreak will have significant negative effects on people all along the food supply chain, says a new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The report indicates that while there is enough supply of food in the world to feed everyone and there is no need for hoarding of food, the COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to disrupt critical food supply chains severely, both between countries and inside countries in rural and urban areas. Movement or import/export restrictions may result in challenges to the transport of key food items and access to food processing units and markets. Both producers and consumers would feel the impact. Ultimately, this could lead to reduced farmers’ incomes, instability of food prices and temporary food shortages.

This situation is likely to have significant adverse effects in particular on the most vulnerable actors, such as informal labourers, vulnerable urban populations and others that rely heavily on the market to meet their food needs. Reduced or lost wages and unstable prices would have serious implications for acute food security and malnutrition levels in these populations.

The combination of the above impacts could potentially lead vulnerable households to resort to negative coping mechanisms, which would have lasting effects on their lives and livelihoods, including a reduced number of meals, increased school drop-out rates, reduced means to cover health expenditures, gender-based violence, selling of productive assets, etc.

In this context, FAO has reviewed its ongoing humanitarian/resilience programming in different countries and analysed the potential impacts of the virus in order to ensure the continuous support for the most vulnerable and anticipatory actions to address the secondary effects of the virus.

As such, FAO tries to maintain the provision of critical assistance where there are already high levels of need while meeting new ones emerging from the effects of the coronavirus. Within the Plan, FAO’s efforts will focus on four main activities:

  • Setting up a global data facility to support analysis and inform assessments and programming in contexts already experiencing humanitarian.
  • Stabilising incomes and access to food as well as preserving ongoing livelihood and food production assistance for the most acutely food-insecure populations.
  • Ensuring continuity of the critical food supply chain for the most vulnerable populations.
  • Ensuring people along the food supply chain are not at risk of coronavirus transmission by raising awareness about food safety and health regulations, including rights, roles and responsibilities of workers.

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