The geography of Covid-19 and a vulnerable global food system

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William G. Moseley, World Politics Review, 12 May 2020

Late last month, as the coronavirus continued to spread across the globe, the World Food Program warned of a “hunger pandemic.” With lockdowns constraining the incomes of the poor and supply chain disruptions preventing food from reaching consumers, pandemic-related hunger and malnutrition could eventually take more lives than the disease itself. Understanding the geography of the pandemic and the vulnerability of different food systems is critical for a well-informed response.

According to the WFP, there are now 821 million people in the world who go to bed hungry every night, and an additional 135 million face crisis levels of hunger or starvation. That latter number could nearly double to 265 million by the end of the year because of COVID-19.

While global hunger had been declining for years, the trend reversed a few years ago as food insecurity levels began to creep up again, with military conflicts in many regions and recent locust infestations in East Africa being some of the major drivers. As such, coronavirus-related food security problems come on top of already troubling worldwide trends.
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