Covid-19’s third shock wave: The global food crisis (Nation)

Many people are already going hungry in the United States; many more will face hunger or starvation in other parts of the world.

In San Antonio, 10,000 families began arriving before dawn on April 9 to receive free boxes of food at a shuttered mall; in a normal week, 200–400 families might show up. In Nairobi, Kenya, thousands of desperately poor people seeking government food aid on April 10 were beaten back by the police, causing multiple injuries. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, thousands of unpaid garment workers defied stay-at-home orders on April 13 to block roads and demand their wages, saying they’d rather risk contagion than go without food. “We are starving,” said one protester. “If we don’t have food in our stomach, what’s the use of observing this lockdown?”

Even as people around the world grapple with the medical and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, many are also facing yet another great calamity: food scarcity. Either for lack of funds or lack of supply (or both), poor and newly jobless families are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the food they need. With both economic contraction and joblessness expected to accelerate in the coming months, the number of families facing food insecurity and starvation is bound to soar.

Major world disasters produce multiple ripple effects. Like a powerful tsunami, they trigger one shock wave after another, each producing injury and mayhem. In the case of Covid-19, the first wave was the global health crisis, still spreading around the world. Next came the stay-at-home requirements and the resulting shutdown of the world economy, resulting in massive job layoffs everywhere. These, in turn, are producing a third wave, possibly even more catastrophic in its outcome: the collapse of global food-supply systems and widespread human starvation…

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