New hardships

 
June 01, 2020

Work done over years and even decades to reduce child poverty and hunger could be undone very rapidly by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Unicef and Save the Children. The agencies warn that the...

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Work done over years and even decades to reduce child poverty and hunger could be undone very rapidly by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Unicef and Save the Children. The agencies warn that the pandemic could push as many as 86 million children into poverty by the end of 2020 according to a new joint study. This would bring the total number of children affected severely by poverty to 672 million, an increase of 15 percent over last year. Nearly two thirds of the children currently in poverty live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. But new poverty is expected mainly in Europe and Central Asia.

The suffering of families around the world is in fact expected to be immense. The UN World Food Programme has warned that in Latin America, which is currently being ravaged by the coronavirus, up to 14 million people could go hungry. This is the result of jobs disappearing in a continent where there is a large informal labour workforce. The WFP projections are frightening. While 3.4 million experienced severe food insecurity in 2019, that number could quadruple this year in Latin America, one of the world’s most vulnerable regions. The WFP also points out that this data is based on the 11 countries where it works and that the precise situation in other nations such as Venezuela where one in every three people faced hunger last year is not known. Currently, Brazil ranks second, after the US, in the number of coronavirus infections, where numbers are rising. They are also increasing rapidly in Peru, Chile and Mexico and the WFP fears that 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation. Heads of families say they are no longer able to cope and there are red and white flags on more and more roofs in the continent denoting people who are seeking food help.

Save the Children has warned that in any situation where hunger rises, children are among the most vulnerable. The UN and other agencies have urged governments to do more to invest in social protection and alter fiscal policies to create employment alongside labour interventions. It has already been noted by experts that countries with stronger welfare policies and infrastructure have fared better in fighting the crisis. The UN has warned that quality healthcare and family-friendly policies are essential at this moment. The WFP also states the problem being confronted is in many ways a unique one and will need collective work and thinking to try and rescue people. This can obviously only happen if governments put people first of all and are willing to cut other expenditures to support those who have been pushed into poverty and with it hunger.



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