COVID-19 is exacerbating food shortages, as food imports, transportation and agricultural production have all been hampered by a combination of lockdowns, travel restrictions and physical distancing measures, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). The agency also expressed concern at the potential impact of COVID-19 on food security, which is likely to exacerbate the already considerable burden of malnutrition in Africa.
“The impact of the disease is expected to be greater among those grappling with food scarcity and malnutrition, while widespread food insecurity will likely increase due to movement restrictions,” says the agency at the WHO Africa media leaders briefing on COVID-19.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said COVID-19 is unfolding in Africa against a backdrop of worrying levels of hunger and undernourishment, which could worsen as the virus threatens livelihoods and household economies. “Hunger and malnutrition heighten vulnerability to diseases, the consequences of which could be far reaching if not properly addressed,” she said. In Africa, it is estimated that one in five people is undernourished, and that 30 percent of children under five – approximately 59 million children – have stunted growth, greater than the global average of 21.9 percent . Wasting occurs in approximately 7.1 percent of children in Africa. Business Day