GOAL today warned that the world is on the brink of a devastating hunger pandemic due to a combination of COVID-19, conflict and climate change.
At the launch of the agency’s “No Mask for Hunger” Christmas appeal, GOAL Director of International Programmes, Joanna Reid, quoted the World Food Programme (WFP) which says COVID-19, conflict and climate change threatens to push 270 million additional people into hunger. She said in Goal’s countries of operation in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, food security is a growing issue.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has already taken over one million lives, left millions more ill, and devastated livelihoods, economies and communities. People living in GOAL’s 14 countries of operation are already vulnerable due to extreme poverty supports such as health care or social welfare. As we celebrate Christmas in Ireland, the challenges we face from COVID-19 will pale in comparison to the reality of life for those in countries like Syria, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Haiti.”
Ms Reid added: “While Covid 19 is directly causing deaths it is also disrupting food supplies, crop production and the availability of cheap food for poor families. Covid-19 and its restrictions are also destroying livelihoods and the ability for poor families to earn income, causing even more increases in hunger, disease and poverty.”
She said bold action is needed from the international community to prevent the main drivers of malnutrition and food insecurity. “Governments must move quickly to implement social protection programmes to benefit the poor. Targeted assistance in the form of cash support and, where markets are not sufficiently functional, food aid and climate smart agricultural inputs, must be made available for those at risk of further shocks, food insecurity and malnutrition. “
Ms Reid said Ireland will have an opportunity to make its voice heard on global hunger when it takes up its seat on the UN Security Council in January.
GOAL Director of fundraising Eamon Sharkey said: “Funds raised through our “No Mask for Hunger” appeal will go to support food programmes in our countries of operation. Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March GOAL has reached more than 17 million people with supports and awareness messaging in our 14 countries.”
“No matter how few people we can host in our homes in Ireland over Christmas due to COVID-19 restrictions the reality is most of us will have a roof over our heads and there will be an abundance of food and drink. For millions of vulnerable people in developing countries around the globe the focus this holiday will be dominated by that all too familiar battle for survival.”