Covid increases number of people in poor countries who cannot afford food

Covid increases number of people in poor countries who cannot afford food

Concern Worldwide and a group of EU humanitarian organisations have also found that 57% said their income does not cover the cost of food. File picture

The pandemic has led to over half the people in the world’s poorest countries not having enough money for food and at least a doubling in the price of basic essentials.

Concern Worldwide and a group of EU humanitarian organisations have also found one third of people across 18 countries said someone in their house went to bed hungry in the last three months. The group, collectively known as Alliance2015, are seeing a crippling impact from the pandemic during the last 22 months.

“The consequences of Covid-19 have widened pre-existing inequalities and eroded the resilience and coping mechanisms of those who were already living in poverty,” the group said. Just over half of respondents (50.6%) said costs for basic foodstuffs have at least doubled, while 53% said their income has fallen.

Some 51% said food quality has worsened since March 2020 and 62% said they are eating less. A further 57% said their income does not cover the cost of food.

Coping mechanisms included cost-cutting (56%) with 82% of this group reducing their spend on food, the "Community Resilience & the Ongoing Impacts of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Households" report states. 

Concern head of technical assistance Chris Pain said: “While in Ireland, the beneficial effects of vaccines and government economic supports eased the worst impact of the pandemic, in many poorer countries the fall-out from Covid continues to undermine the resilience of millions of people facing overlapping crises including climate change, conflict and economic downturns.” 

People spoke of rising food costs linked to Covid restrictions on transport and movement. Families with children faced financial pressures when supports like free school meals were removed during lockdowns. In Syria, the research found, school dropout levels for under-11s were 21%, rising to 81% for girls aged over 16.

Alliance2015 called on the EU to boost support for partner countries, and a new EU Action Plan on Nutrition. They pointed to promises made in 2015 when the United Nations agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“A central promise of Agenda 2030 was to ‘leave no-one behind’ with a further promise to ‘reach the furthest behind first’,” the report states. “This research shows we, as an international community, are falling short on these promises.” 

Covid in Europe

Meanwhile, Ireland and the rest of Europe seem set for another Covid winter. There are now 416 patients with Covid in Irish hospitals.

The positive impact of vaccinations, as highlighted by Concern, continues to ease the impact of the virus, however, with just nine people in intensive care units with Covid-19.

The World Health Organisation said Europe saw 1.2 million new cases last week, with five counties including Ukraine seeing an increase of 20% or more.

However, deaths decreased by 26% to over 2,500 in a week.

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