‘COVID famines’ – millions face starvation, as donor community struggles

By Edward Mukaro
SLUGGISH funding from the donor community means that millions of lives have been exposed to ‘COVID famines’, as the United Nations struggles to raise the 10.34 Billion humanitarian appeal for the ‘COVID-related nutrition assistance’ to the globe’s worst hunger spots, with only 28% of the amount received, Oxfam has said.
It is estimated that COVID-19 has left 55 million people facing extreme hunger, mainly from the seven worst-affected countries including Afghanistan and South Sudan, facing severe-to-extreme levels of food insecurity.
The report further states that there are now famine-like conditions in some parts of South Sudan and Burkina Faso.
Hunger levels in countries like Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and countries mentioned above are worse now than in 2017 when the threat of four famines was looming and only averted by a last-minute declaration by the UN that pushed donors into giving massive support.
“AS of today, donors have pledged just 28 percent (%) of the UN’s COVID appeal that was launched back in March this year. Every sector including gender-based violence (58%), protection (27%), health (26%) and water, sanitation and hygiene (17.2%) are chronically underfunded.
“But some of the worst-funded sectors are food security (10.6%) and nutrition (3.2%).
“The UN has divided its humanitarian appeal into “COVID” and “non-COVID”-related needs. In six of the seven countries where severe hunger is rising, donors have provided less than 40% of the funding they need for COVID-related food security.
“Even one of the first hunger ‘hot-spots’ in Africa – Burkina Faso – have only been able to secure less than half the humanitarian assistance it needs,” said Oxfam.
A new Oxfam analysis says that the international community’s response to global food insecurity has been dangerously inadequate. The report “Later Will Be Too Late”, is aimed at the Committee for World Food Security (CFS) high-level event today, which is hoped to ‘keep food security and nutrition front-and-centre of the global sustainable development agenda.
Oxfam International interim executive director, Chema Vera, said “…In July we warmed that by the end of this year more people could be dying from COVID-related hunger than from the disease itself. There is overwhelming evidence that money spent on preparedness and prevention not only saves lives today but can break the costly cycle of poverty and hunger and give people hope for tomorrow.
“The international community should fully-fund the UN appeal now and accompany this by the strongest political action to support the secretary-general’s call for a global ceasefire. We must break this horrific, never-ending bond between conflict and hunger,” he said.
Only 28% ($2.85b) of the 10.19b requested in the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID- 19 has been funded. Breaking that figure down by sector, it falls to 10.6% (254.4m provided out of $2.4b requested) for food security and a paltry 3.2% ($7.9m provided from $247.8m requested) for nutrition.

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