ovid-19 has caused hunger that will last at least a decade, according to the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food, saying dealing with this must be the highest priority for governments.
In his first report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, (UNHCR) the rapporteur Michael Fakhri said the number of people suffering from acute hunger has doubled in the pandemic, rising from 130 million in 2019 to 265 million by the end of 2020.
Also, as a result of the pandemic, half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforce is at risk of losing livelihoods. Informal economy workers, migrant workers and other marginalised people lack social protection and access to quality health care.
The UN Human Rights Council responded with a resolution re-affirming the right to food, and supporting Michael Fakhri’s emphasis on the role of governments in meeting this right.
Michael Fakhri had conducted a survey, held consultations, received reports and studied research into the range of measures that have been effective in ensuring people’s right to food is fulfilled during the pandemic.
He said, “Employers must provide workers in all parts of the food system with safe working conditions, such as personal protective equipment, distancing measures, clear health and safety guidelines, paid sick leave, adequate sleeping, eating and sanitary facilities and a quarantine shelter.
“States should connect local food producers to people in need”
“Safe working conditions also include respecting the right of all workers to organise and to make all the arrangements necessary to care for their families during the crisis.
“States must provide workers with adequate social protection and actively enforce occupational safety laws and standards. All workers should be protected equally.
“States should connect local food producers to people in need by supporting local markets and local procurement programmes for schools, hospitals, prisons and nursing homes.
“States must protect local farmers’ and peasants’ land tenure.
“States must ensure that food from public stocks is distributed fairly and transparently. States without such programmes should consider developing public food stocks sourced by local producers.
“States are encouraged to provide direct cash transfers when possible, since they are proving to be the most effective measure to prevent a hunger crisis.”
Women contribute more than 50 per cent of the world’s food and account for 70 per cent of the world’s hungry
The report tackled the Food Systems Summit, saying it must “bring about real change in the lives of people, realising their right to food without discrimination, with dignity and equality.”
The new UN resolution calls on governments to co-operate with Michael Fakhri in his efforts.
It expresses concern that, while women contribute more than 50 per cent of the food produced worldwide, they also account for 70 per cent of the world’s hungry… and that almost twice as many women as men suffer from malnutrition.
It stresses that the primary responsibility of states is to promote and protect the right to food, including in humanitarian emergencies.
The international community should provide assistance to increase food production and access to food, through development, technology, food crop rehabilitation and food.
And it asks the rapporteur to report annually on the implementation of the right to food.