The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity and disrupted food systems and food supply chains in developed and developing countries alike. In the United States, millions of Americans struggle to put food on the table
. Around the world, according to the United Nations over 270 million are hungry
, and this is expected to continue to increase.
Food insecurity across the U.S. continues to be on the rise because of the effects of COVID-19. According to Feeding America, over 50 million Americans will experience food insecurity, including 17 million children
This year, the Nobel Peace Prize recognised the inextricable link between hunger and conflict. With climate change as a further complicating factor, research, investment, and coordination with local farmers are critical for ensuring food security for all.
Recent months have brought all sorts of climate-linked disasters, from raging wildfires
in California and Oregon to flooding
in Alabama. As we think of the incalculable losses that are associated with these extremities linked to the changing climate, I cannot help but think of the belowground web of life that is burning, being flooded and washed away, affected, or lost.
Recently, the UK contributed £17 million to support the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
to continue their efforts to combat the desert locust surge in East Africa
and improve early warning and forecasting systems.
African countries are beginning to reopen borders
, and this is finally enabling many citizens to resume their normal life. However, there is still an urgent need for African countries to prioritize agriculture to tackle food insecurity issues that have been exacerbated by COVID and will continue to be an issue into the near future. According to the latest estimates by the United Nations World Food Programme
, COVID-19’s compounding effects could drive 270 million people into food insecurity.
During a crisis, such as the novel coronavirus
, whose impact changes with every passing minute, the urge to listen to and watch the news, and get firsthand insights and real time updates can be constant. Indeed, millions of Americans are frequently checking the news. I know I am. What I’ve noticed on three of the major TV stations I’ve watched across the day is the absence of diversity in the experts commenting on the pandemic. This is inexcusable.
Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to lead by example and to provide current, high-quality information to the people and communities that support them. This responsibility is no clearer than during a public health and information crisis like the one presented by this novel coronavirus.
Recently, the Associated Press cropped out
Ugandan climate change activist Vanessa Nakate from a photo at the World Economic Forum. The remaining activists in the photo, including Greta Thunberg, were all white.
United Nations World Food Program recently released 2020 Global Hotspots Report
. According to the report, millions of citizens from Sub-Saharan African countries will face hunger in the first half of 2020 for several reasons including conflict, political instability and climate-related events such as below-average rainfall and flooding.
Recently, Italy declared a State of Emergency
because of record-breaking flooding while on 11 November, it did not rain anywhere
on the continent of Australia, also breaking a record.
United Nations World Food Day is celebrated around the world on October 16 under the theme: “Our Actions ARE Our Future. Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World
”. This theme is timely, especially, because across Africa and around the world, there has been a gradual rise in malnutrition and diet-related non communicable diseases, as highlighted in The Lancet
study and a United Nations Report
published earlier this year.
Around the world, citizens took to the streets to demand their governments address climate change
. In the U.S., this widespread activism illustrates the findings of a newly released report
by the Chicago Council on Global affairs which found for the first time that the majority of Americans consider climate change a threat and the most critical foreign policy issue facing the country.
“It has never happened before,” is a sentence that is becoming excessively common in the news due to a changing climate where new extremes are becoming normal.
The U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green recently concluded a one-week visit to USAID-funded programs
at several African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and Mozambique. His goal was to promote sustainable paths to self-reliance, including in the context of food security programs.
The latest UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s annual Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report
highlighted drought as one of the key factors contributing to the continuing rise in the number of hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa. And in South Africa, the Government’s Crop Estimates Committee announced that the country would harvest 20 percent less maize
in 2019 because of drought conditions.
Recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva urged countries, scientists, policymakers and stakeholders invested in building an equitable, sustainable, and thriving planet to pay attention to the soil. He further noted that the future of the planet depends on how healthy the soils of today are.
In the United States, the 21 young people who are plaintiffs in the case Juliana v. United States
will soon make their case against the government for failing to take action against climate change. Similar lawsuits have been filed in countries including Portugal
, and Pakistan
London’s Waterloo Bridge over the River Thames is famously known as the “Ladies Bridge,” for it was built largely by women during the height of World War II. On another continent, women fighting a different war have built an equally remarkable structure: a 3,300-meter anti-salt dyke constructed by a women’s association in Senegal to reclaim land affected by rising levels of salt water.