The UN proposes the creation of a “bond against hunger” in Latin America

16 June 2020
Economic Affairs

A new report from two United Nations agencies proposes a “bonus against Hunger” in addition to a minimum emergency income to prevent the health crisis of COVID-19 from becoming a food crisis that sets the region back 20 years of development and push millions more into hunger and poverty.

The two-decade effort to eliminate extreme poverty may be lost in a matter of months and millions more will go hungry due to the COVID-19 crisis, warns a new report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO).

According to the agencies, Latin America needs urgent measures to prevent the current health crisis caused by the coronavirus from turning into a food crisis.

With the largest drop in regional GDP in a century, estimated at -5.3%, approximately 16 million Latin Americans will fall into extreme poverty up to a total of 83.4 million people, which will make many of them have difficulties accessing food. Between 2016 and 2018 there were already 53.7 million people in severe food insecurity in Latin America.

The executive secretary of the Commission, Alicia Bárcena, and the regional director of the UN agency for food, Julio Berdegué, explained during a press conference that the effects of the crisis are already visible on food systems: the vulnerability of workers have grown and domestic food prices are rising more than the price of other products in the basic basket, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Further, due to rising unemployment and falling income, millions of people cannot buy enough food, and many others are having to choose cheaper and lower nutritional quality foods.

“We see that there is an increase in the possibility of a food crisis. Our region accumulates seven years of very low growth. Since 2014 poverty has increased. With this crisis, which will be the largest in the history of the region, there will undoubtedly be an increase in extreme poverty and hunger ”, explained Bárcenas.

“We can lose everything we’ve done in 20 years, and go back to where we were 20 years ago in a couple of months. […]Millions of people can starve. That is the seriousness of the current problem, “added the FAO director.

The report also expresses strong concern over labor-intensive high-value sectors such as coffee, flowers and fruits, as well as an impact on female employment amid the crisis. Also exists an additional impact of climatic phenomena on agricultural production, in particular, subsistence producers and agricultural workers.

[Descarga nuestra aplicación Noticias ONU para IOS o Android. O subscríbete a nuestro boletín.]

FAO / Ubirajara Machado
Latin American countries have implemented school lunch programs to fight hunger. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the beneficiaries of these programs.

A bonus against hunger for the most vulnerable

For agencies, the big task is to prevent the current pandemic crisis from turning into a food crisis, something that can be achieved by supplementing an emergency basic income with a hunger bonus.

According to the report, this bonus could materialize in the form of monetary transfers, food baskets or coupons to the entire population living in extreme poverty for a period of six months, equivalent to 70% of the regional extreme poverty line, which stands at the value of 47 dollars in 2010.

Its cost would be equivalent to 0.06% of regional GDP, if it is delivered only to the population in extreme poverty over 65 years of age, or to 0.45% of GDP if the entire population in extreme poverty is covered. ECLAC and FAO recommend the second option, which would have an estimated cost of 23.5 billion dollars.

In addition, they propose an increase of at least 20% in the average loan portfolio of the last three years, which would add up to around 5.5 billion dollars, for producers in the food system. Additionally, for the most lagging family farm units, experts say a basic investment kit of $ 250 is needed at a cost of $ 1.7 billion regionally.

Officials called for international cooperation to support countries in the most vulnerable situation.

FAO/Max Valencia
The Lo Valledor market in Chile continues to supply food to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic with all protective measures. The current coronavirus situation in Central and South America is the “most complex”.

Risks of disruption in the food system

Julio Berdegué explained that the current crisis also represents a risk of disruptions in the food system of the region.

He gave as an example that, in Colombia, agricultural production crops are being lost because there is no one to buy, while, in Cuba, production is decreasing due to lower income and the closure of the tourism sector.

Likewise, in Brazil, COVID-19 is causing a 9.6% drop in sales of wholesale markets in Sao Paulo, and in Peru it caused the closure of the Great Wholesale Market of Lima.

“The food system is complex, its activities are essential and its workers are vulnerable. Facilitating the functioning of food supply chains is essential to guarantee supply and access, ”said the expert.

UNDP Guatemala/Caroline Trutmann
Women farmers in Guatemala

recommendations

The agencies propose the bonus against hunger as part of a decalogue of measures so that all households have access to sufficient and nutritious food, companies and actors of the food system can carry out their tasks, and countries have enough food to guarantee the supply at reasonable prices.

The other measures are:

  • Strengthen school feeding programs to guarantee the feeding of children and adolescents
  • Support food assistance initiatives of civil society organizations
  • Financial support through credits and productive subsidies for agricultural companies, mainly oriented to family farming
  • Adjust sanitation and health protocols in food production and transportation and in wholesale and retail markets
  • Expand and guarantee the operation of support programs for self-consumption production
  • Ensure financing, technical assistance and access to inputs and labor for artisanal farmers and fishermen
  • Establish agile mechanisms for consultation and public-private coordination among all actors in the food system
  • Prevent wholesale and retail markets and agribusinesses from closing or reducing their operations
  • Continue with policies that have kept world food trade open, in particular by avoiding protectionist measures that increase the price of food

“This crisis is not something that will happen quickly, You have to understand that we face a bad 2020 and a very weak 2021. It is more difficult to resist two years than two months, ”said the FAO regional director, assuring that the measures recommended in the report are very necessary for the well-being of the Latin American population.

PMA / Mathias Roed
WFP distributes food baskets to vulnerable populations in Colombia.

A hunger pandemic

This Tuesday the World Food Program echoed the call of ECLAC and FAO, and affirmed that in reality urgent measures are needed for the region.

The alert comes as coronavirus infection rates continue to rise rapidly in the South American region, and the number of cases doubled in the last three weeks, to 1.6 million.

According to the program, COVID-19 could push an additional 10 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean into severe food insecurity this year.

The program’s regional director, Miguel Barreto, told reporters via videoconference that the warning applied to countries where the agency was present, such as Colombia, Honduras and Haiti. The Program does not operate in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela:

“Our projection paints a stark picture. Our region already has problems related to economic and climate crises, as well as insecurity and displacement. Another problem is that between 50 and 70% of workers do so in the informal sector, which makes them more vulnerable because they cannot access work due to the closure in most of the countries of the region ”.

The official made a call to solidarity of international financial institutions, governments, multilateral organizations “and all sectors of society” to defeat the virus and protect the most vulnerable countries and communities.

OIM
IOM supports Venezuelans and Brazilians in areas affected by the coronavirus crisis in Brazil

Social assistance is key

Several countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region have already increased social assistance to millions of people living in poverty, ”said Barreto.

This extra help has made “all the difference,” he said, allow people who live from day to day to meet their basic needs without having to leave their homes and potentially come into contact with the coronavirus.

“We recommend that governments expand their programs to include the most vulnerable people and groups, such as informal workers and migrants,” he insisted, before highlighting a pilot project between the Government of Colombia and the Program in the department of Arauca that helps 42,000 migrants Venezuelans and Colombians who are excluded from any social protection or emergency support.

Barreto explained that the project is what they call a “shock response in social protection.” Most of the migrants cannot get support from the national protection support system, which is why some of them are now returning to Venezuela.

“This pilot from Arauca, which basically means that the WFP inject funds into the national protection system, look for durable solutions, “he said.

Also, from the regional humanitarian center in Panama, this UN agency has sent more than 68 tons of supplies to 27 countries in the region. In the coming days, Barreto announced that cargo flights will begin arriving in the region from its international hub in China.

The “first of many flights” in the region will also bring critical health supplies to Ecuador from the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, he added.

“At a time when we see the virus devastate our region, this support is absolutely crucial for people on the front lines of the pandemic, and we look forward to the arrival of more supplies in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

WFP also plans to organize passenger flights to different points in the region for the humanitarian and health communities.

“These common services are needed now more than ever because the pandemic, which has increased already high humanitarian needs, has at the same time caused disruptions in supply lines and reductions in international transportation around the world,” Barreto explained.

The expert warned that the fact that the region is not in conflict makes the impact of the economic crisis and migration less visible.

OCHA / Gema Cortes
A temperature control for the coronavirus in a shelter in Venezuela

Negotiations with Venezuela

The regional director of the Program reported answering questions to journalists that he is in negotiations with the Government of Venezuela for the agency to enter the country.

“There is very good will on both sides and we are sitting down to see how we can collaborate in the country. The negotiations are going well as we all want, and it is likely that the World Food Program will enter Venezuela in 2020, but there is still much to talk about, “he said.

The Program does not operate in the South American countryor 45 years ago.

16 June 2020
Economic Affairs

A new report from two United Nations agencies proposes a “bonus against Hunger” in addition to a minimum emergency income to prevent the health crisis of COVID-19 from becoming a food crisis that sets the region back 20 years of development and push millions more into hunger and poverty.

The two-decade effort to eliminate extreme poverty may be lost in a matter of months and millions more will go hungry due to the COVID-19 crisis, warns a new report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO).

According to the agencies, Latin America needs urgent measures to prevent the current health crisis caused by the coronavirus from turning into a food crisis.

With the largest drop in regional GDP in a century, estimated at -5.3%, approximately 16 million Latin Americans will fall into extreme poverty up to a total of 83.4 million people, which will make many of them have difficulties accessing food. Between 2016 and 2018 there were already 53.7 million people in severe food insecurity in Latin America.

The executive secretary of the Commission, Alicia Bárcena, and the regional director of the UN agency for food, Julio Berdegué, explained during a press conference that the effects of the crisis are already visible on food systems: the vulnerability of workers have grown and domestic food prices are rising more than the price of other products in the basic basket, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Further, due to rising unemployment and falling income, millions of people cannot buy enough food, and many others are having to choose cheaper and lower nutritional quality foods.

“We see that there is an increase in the possibility of a food crisis. Our region accumulates seven years of very low growth. Since 2014 poverty has increased. With this crisis, which will be the largest in the history of the region, there will undoubtedly be an increase in extreme poverty and hunger ”, explained Bárcenas.

“We can lose everything we’ve done in 20 years, and go back to where we were 20 years ago in a couple of months. […]Millions of people can starve. That is the seriousness of the current problem, “added the FAO director.

The report also expresses strong concern over labor-intensive high-value sectors such as coffee, flowers and fruits, as well as an impact on female employment amid the crisis. Also exists an additional impact of climatic phenomena on agricultural production, in particular, subsistence producers and agricultural workers.

[Descarga nuestra aplicación Noticias ONU para IOS o Android. O subscríbete a nuestro boletín.]

FAO / Ubirajara Machado
Latin American countries have implemented school lunch programs to fight hunger. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the beneficiaries of these programs.

A bonus against hunger for the most vulnerable

For agencies, the big task is to prevent the current pandemic crisis from turning into a food crisis, something that can be achieved by supplementing an emergency basic income with a hunger bonus.

According to the report, this bonus could materialize in the form of monetary transfers, food baskets or coupons to the entire population living in extreme poverty for a period of six months, equivalent to 70% of the regional extreme poverty line, which stands at the value of 47 dollars in 2010.

Its cost would be equivalent to 0.06% of regional GDP, if it is delivered only to the population in extreme poverty over 65 years of age, or to 0.45% of GDP if the entire population in extreme poverty is covered. ECLAC and FAO recommend the second option, which would have an estimated cost of 23.5 billion dollars.

In addition, they propose an increase of at least 20% in the average loan portfolio of the last three years, which would add up to around 5.5 billion dollars, for producers in the food system. Additionally, for the most lagging family farm units, experts say a basic investment kit of $ 250 is needed at a cost of $ 1.7 billion regionally.

Officials called for international cooperation to support countries in the most vulnerable situation.

FAO/Max Valencia
The Lo Valledor market in Chile continues to supply food to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic with all protective measures. The current coronavirus situation in Central and South America is the “most complex”.

Risks of disruption in the food system

Julio Berdegué explained that the current crisis also represents a risk of disruptions in the food system of the region.

He gave as an example that, in Colombia, agricultural production crops are being lost because there is no one to buy, while, in Cuba, production is decreasing due to lower income and the closure of the tourism sector.

Likewise, in Brazil, COVID-19 is causing a 9.6% drop in sales of wholesale markets in Sao Paulo, and in Peru it caused the closure of the Great Wholesale Market of Lima.

“The food system is complex, its activities are essential and its workers are vulnerable. Facilitating the functioning of food supply chains is essential to guarantee supply and access, ”said the expert.

UNDP Guatemala/Caroline Trutmann
Women farmers in Guatemala

recommendations

The agencies propose the bonus against hunger as part of a decalogue of measures so that all households have access to sufficient and nutritious food, companies and actors of the food system can carry out their tasks, and countries have enough food to guarantee the supply at reasonable prices.

The other measures are:

  • Strengthen school feeding programs to guarantee the feeding of children and adolescents
  • Support food assistance initiatives of civil society organizations
  • Financial support through credits and productive subsidies for agricultural companies, mainly oriented to family farming
  • Adjust sanitation and health protocols in food production and transportation and in wholesale and retail markets
  • Expand and guarantee the operation of support programs for self-consumption production
  • Ensure financing, technical assistance and access to inputs and labor for artisanal farmers and fishermen
  • Establish agile mechanisms for consultation and public-private coordination among all actors in the food system
  • Prevent wholesale and retail markets and agribusinesses from closing or reducing their operations
  • Continue with policies that have kept world food trade open, in particular by avoiding protectionist measures that increase the price of food

“This crisis is not something that will happen quickly, You have to understand that we face a bad 2020 and a very weak 2021. It is more difficult to resist two years than two months, ”said the FAO regional director, assuring that the measures recommended in the report are very necessary for the well-being of the Latin American population.

PMA / Mathias Roed
WFP distributes food baskets to vulnerable populations in Colombia.

A hunger pandemic

This Tuesday the World Food Program echoed the call of ECLAC and FAO, and affirmed that in reality urgent measures are needed for the region.

The alert comes as coronavirus infection rates continue to rise rapidly in the South American region, and the number of cases doubled in the last three weeks, to 1.6 million.

According to the program, COVID-19 could push an additional 10 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean into severe food insecurity this year.

The program’s regional director, Miguel Barreto, told reporters via videoconference that the warning applied to countries where the agency was present, such as Colombia, Honduras and Haiti. The Program does not operate in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela:

“Our projection paints a stark picture. Our region already has problems related to economic and climate crises, as well as insecurity and displacement. Another problem is that between 50 and 70% of workers do so in the informal sector, which makes them more vulnerable because they cannot access work due to the closure in most of the countries of the region ”.

The official made a call to solidarity of international financial institutions, governments, multilateral organizations “and all sectors of society” to defeat the virus and protect the most vulnerable countries and communities.

OIM
IOM supports Venezuelans and Brazilians in areas affected by the coronavirus crisis in Brazil

Social assistance is key

Several countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region have already increased social assistance to millions of people living in poverty, ”said Barreto.

This extra help has made “all the difference,” he said, allow people who live from day to day to meet their basic needs without having to leave their homes and potentially come into contact with the coronavirus.

“We recommend that governments expand their programs to include the most vulnerable people and groups, such as informal workers and migrants,” he insisted, before highlighting a pilot project between the Government of Colombia and the Program in the department of Arauca that helps 42,000 migrants Venezuelans and Colombians who are excluded from any social protection or emergency support.

Barreto explained that the project is what they call a “shock response in social protection.” Most of the migrants cannot get support from the national protection support system, which is why some of them are now returning to Venezuela.

“This pilot from Arauca, which basically means that the WFP inject funds into the national protection system, look for durable solutions, “he said.

Also, from the regional humanitarian center in Panama, this UN agency has sent more than 68 tons of supplies to 27 countries in the region. In the coming days, Barreto announced that cargo flights will begin arriving in the region from its international hub in China.

The “first of many flights” in the region will also bring critical health supplies to Ecuador from the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, he added.

“At a time when we see the virus devastate our region, this support is absolutely crucial for people on the front lines of the pandemic, and we look forward to the arrival of more supplies in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

WFP also plans to organize passenger flights to different points in the region for the humanitarian and health communities.

“These common services are needed now more than ever because the pandemic, which has increased already high humanitarian needs, has at the same time caused disruptions in supply lines and reductions in international transportation around the world,” Barreto explained.

The expert warned that the fact that the region is not in conflict makes the impact of the economic crisis and migration less visible.

OCHA / Gema Cortes
A temperature control for the coronavirus in a shelter in Venezuela

Negotiations with Venezuela

The regional director of the Program reported answering questions to journalists that he is in negotiations with the Government of Venezuela for the agency to enter the country.

“There is very good will on both sides and we are sitting down to see how we can collaborate in the country. The negotiations are going well as we all want, and it is likely that the World Food Program will enter Venezuela in 2020, but there is still much to talk about, “he said.

The Program does not operate in the South American countryor 45 years ago.