SEATTLE, Washington — Worldwide, more than 820 million people lack the food they need to survive. Of this number, the majority are concentrated in the world’s rural areas, where many are especially vulnerable to the economic shocks produced by events like COVID-19. That is why some, like British actor Idris Elba, are working around the clock to help those in need. Here is how Idris Elba is supporting poor farmers in the developing world.
COVID-19, Hunger, and the Rural Poor
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s rural regions were already mired in a deep struggle with hunger. Indeed, regions with largely agricultural-economies frequently have a higher prevalence of undernourishment. In Africa, for example, the rate of undernourishment is 19.9 percent as of 2018. Other heavily-rural areas like the Caribbean and Asia fare little-better. Undernourishment stands at 18.4 percent in the Caribbean and 11.3 percent in Asia. Unfortunately, while these numbers had once been on the decline, that is no longer the case. The incidence of world hunger has steadily increased since 2015, and now stands at 10.8%.
Historically, economic downturns like the one caused by COVID-19 have a strong correlation with increases in hunger. While the current crisis is somewhat unique in circumstances, it is no different in this regard. Widespread lockdowns and quarantine measures have left many farmers unable to work their fields or sell their produce at markets. As a result, rising food prices are straining the ability of poor families to feed themselves.
Moreover, as budgets tighten around the world, many humanitarian organizations are no longer receiving enough funding to continue providing services to those experiencing poverty and food insecurity. If these organizations continue to suffer from funding deficits, experts estimate that upwards of 300,000 people could perish daily as a consequence. In other words, those who were already vulnerable are now even more at risk. That is why actor Idris Elba and wife Sabrina, who both previously tested positive for COVID-19, have decided to step in and make a difference. How? By utilizing their celebrity to advocate for the world’s poor farmers.
A Fund to Support the Rural Poor
On April 20, 2020, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF). The RPSF aims to promote greater food security in rural areas by minimizing the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural regions.
In particular, the services provided by the facility will focus on protecting rural farmers’ access to markets, information and funding. Thus, enabling them to continue producing essential goods like crops and livestock. The organization hopes that in doing so, its efforts will result in an accelerated recovery for rural communities looking to get back on their feet after the pandemic.
Idris and Sabrina Elba Call for Donations to Support Poor Farmers
Two of the first to make an appeal on behalf of the RPSF were IFAD Goodwill Ambassadors and British Actors Idris and Sabrina Elba. The IFAD appointed the couple on April 20, 2020. Thus, making this their first action as UN Goodwill Ambassadors. Idris and Sabrina first experienced the plight of rural farmers while visiting an IFAD center during the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016. As the Elbas spent time with those affected, they gained the opportunity to see up close how devasting epidemics can be to rural life and how international support can make a difference.
The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating an already dire problem. Hunger, once on the decline, is now once again at the forefront of rural life. However, there remain those who are doing their part to help. By channeling his celebrity and personal experience into positive change, Idris Elba is supporting poor farmers in the developing world.
– Tiara Wilson