Food baskets for the most vulnerable Colombian and migrant population in Soacha, just outside Bogotá, 15 April 2020.
Photo: ©WFP/Mathias Roed

Millions at risk of food insecurity in Latin America and Caribbean

The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean could push an additional 10 million people into poverty and hunger in 11 countries in the region, WFP says.

The total number of people in severe food insecurity could increase from 3.4 million in 2019 to about 13.7 million in 2020, due in large part to COVID-19, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned in late May 2020.

WFP's severe food insecurity projections focus on countries and subregions where the organisation provides technical assistance to governments and has ongoing operations. Such is the case for Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and small island developing states in the Caribbean.

The WFP projection is based on the comparison between food security assessments carried out in 2019, an analysis of economic indicators after the COVID-19 outbreak, and the results of remote surveys completed in 2020 to assess the pandemic´s impact on markets access, food security and livelihoods.  

The analysis of economic indicators for 2020 is not encouraging. With the pandemic, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) forecasts an average regional contraction of -5.3 per cent for this year. The impact of this contraction in economic activity can aggravate the already precarious condition of millions of vulnerable people who need to work to have access to food. 

Movement restrictions and shelter-in-place orders make it difficult or impossible to do so currently. ECLAC and the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates on job losses by the poor working class and the loss of income from remittances from abroad were also negative.

WFP urges countries to provide additional support to beneficiaries of national social protection programmes and to expand coverage to more groups, such as migrants and people without formal employment. In order to respond quickly and at scale to the enormous challenge presented by COVID-19, some countries need assistance from international financial institutions and the international community.

(WFP/ile)

Read more at WFP website