During the past six months David Beasley, former South Carolina Governor and current Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), warned world leaders 2020 would be “the worst humanitarian crisis year since World War II.” In a recent interview with the PBS Newshour, Beasley cited conflicts in Yemen, Syria and South Sudan; along with climate extremes and desert locusts destroying crops in East Africa and South Asia as causes for the warning.
The World Food Program, annually helps 83 countries with food assistance in emergencies and work with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Prior to the global spread of COVID-19, the organization calculated 135 million people around the globe would face starvation. On April 21, Beasley reported to the UN Security Council, that the response to the Coronavirus creates an “excruciating trade-off between saving lives or livelihoods” and saving people from dying from starvation.
— World Food Programme (@WFP) April 21, 2020
During his interview with the News Hour, Beasley told host Judy Woodruff, it is now possible that 260 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation. He said, at this stage in the pandemic, the virus is causing the most problems in the food supply chain.
If we can't move food, move commodities, move supplies, then, obviously, even if we have money, if we can't get the food to the people — you know, you can't go two weeks without food. That's just the reality of life.
Worldwide there are currently 2.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 180,000 deaths. Beasley, who recently recovered from the disease, said action is needed now to avoid multiple famines of biblical proportions.
According to WFP, countries across Africa and the Middle East are where chief concerns are; with quarantine shutdowns exacerbating poverty, more people are expected to die from the economic impact of the COVID-19 than from the virus itself.
While no food shortages exist in the US, organizations and agencies have long advocated for reduced food waste.
According to South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (SCDHEC) Don’t Waste Food SC Campaign, households are responsible for about 43% of all food waste in the US. With family’s home during the pandemic, the agency recently shared a guide for reducing food waste at home.