SEATTLE, Washington — In recent months, Latin America has seen an increased number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which have adversely affected the hunger crisis throughout the continent. For example, Peru’s mortality rates are now among the highest in the world. Approximately 89 out of every 100,000 inhabitants have succumbed to the virus. Indigenous people, refugees, migrants and marginalized populations in urban and rural settings are the most affected. Subsequently, the pandemic has exacerbated the hunger crisis due to economic contraction, informality with labor markets and a soaring unemployment rate that will put 29 million individuals in poverty. It’s evident that rising hunger in Latin America due to COVID-19 has become a real issue, but there are organizations at work to fight back.
According to the United Nations, the pandemic has caused inflation in food prices compared to other necessities. The economic downfall across the continent has led to an increased rate of unemployment, which has prevented many from having adequate funds to purchase healthy and nutritious food.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme has rallied for international solidarity to avert the impending hunger pandemic in Latin America. The organization concluded that the pandemic will cause a 269% rise in the number of people facing a food crisis from 2019.
The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization claimed that food insecurity has grown from 22.9% in 2014 to 31.7% in 2019. Action Against Hunger states that the number of people who will face food insecurity will increase from 47.7 million in 2019 to 66.9 million by 2030.
Organizations at Work
Action Against Hunger is an NGO dedicated to ending the hunger crisis across impoverished nations. It has led global movements that have spanned more than 40 years across 45 countries. The organization has made radical efforts in Central America, Columbia and Peru by distributing prevention and hygiene kits, educating the public on maintaining optimal health and what to do if they contract the virus. It also provides nutritional and health services to pregnant women, infants and children. From the onset, it has supported an excess of 453,000 people across the region by providing food, rations and cash to assist with food security.
Alicia Barcena, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s executive secretary, stated that it is important to prevent the health crisis from becoming a food crisis. As a result, the organization is suggesting “complementing the Emergency Basic Income (EBI) with the provision of an Anti-Hunger Grant (AHG).”
The World Food Programme will require $328 million to assist 3.5 million individuals affected by the pandemic across Latin America and the Caribbean islands. Additionally, it will need $120 million in funding to help Venezuelan migrants throughout Peru, Ecuador and Columbia. In Columbia, the organization is aiding 400,000 citizens monthly with cash transfers and food rations.
Action Against Hunger
To fight back against the rising hunger in Latin America due to COVID-19, Action Against Hunger has deployed teams that consist of more than 400 people. This has enhanced the response in addressing the direct cause of hunger in countries like Columbia, Peru, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The organization also considers NGO partnerships vital in addressing world hunger and has collaborated with interagency groups, humanitarian organizations and U.N. agencies.
Action Against Hunger has been at the forefront of meeting the needs and demands of the affected regions with efforts concentrated in Columbia, Central America and Peru. As of December 13, Peru had 980,943 confirmed cases. However, the NGO has assisted with combatting the food crisis by delivering 40,000 kilos of food. It has also coordinated with the Ministry of Health to create awareness and outreach campaigns to combat the spread.
In Columbia, the organization has monitored the nutritional intake of children, helped stop the spread through hygiene awareness and distributed food and money. The organization’s work has also helped the people of Guatemala as malnutrition has been on the rise.
Despite the pandemic creating a food crisis throughout Latin America, various NGO’s have made strides in quelling the crisis. Action Against Hunger is one such organization that has made headway in deterring and alleviating the effects COVID-19 has had on the hunger pandemic. The path toward ending the rising hunger in Latin America due to COVID-19 will be arduous, but various international agencies and organizations will continue to be a beacon of hope.
– Michael Santiago