UN agencies fear that the socioeconomic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic will push tens of millions of people into extreme poverty and that the number of undernourished will also skyrocket, from the nearly 690 million currently estimated to more than 820 with which it could close the year 2020 if measures are not taken.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have warned in a joint statement from the “unprecedented challenge” posed by COVID-19 “to public health, food systems and the world of work.”
The organizations estimate that almost half of the world’s workforce is at risk of being left without their sources of income, with “millions of companies facing an existential threat.” The risk is heightened in the case of the informal economy, with workers “especially vulnerable” due to the lack of social coverage.
“Without means of earning income during lockdowns, many cannot feed themselves or their families. For the majority, no income means no food, or at best less food or less nutrients,” have explained.
Border closures, trade restrictions and limits on mobility have also exposed the “fragility” of a food market that has come to a near standstill, with supply chains completely broken. In the case of the agricultural sector, the loss of income can lead to underselling properties, accepting predatory loans and even child labor, while organizations have also demanded specific protection in the case of seasonal workers who migrate for crops.
Thus, they have requested “long-term sustainable solutions” in which labor and health rights are combined without losing sight of the special vulnerability of certain sectors and with a general message of “solidarity”. “Only together can we overcome the interlocking impact on health, society and the economy of the pandemic and prevent it from leading to a humanitarian and food security catastrophe,” they added.