More than one third of workers, directly employed or indirectly dependant on food systems for their livelihoods, risk income loss due to the impact of Covid-19.
The cost of the UN’s humanitarian response to Covid-19 has risen dramatically from the initial $2.01 billion to $6.7 billion. And a debt standstill has been called for, along with debt restructuring for developing countries.
Food systems directly employ over one billion people. Added this are livelihoods dependent on food systems, for than three billion people. The UN estimates that 35% of food systems jobs and 34% of livelihoods in food systems are at risk because of the impact of Covid-19.
Many vulnerable people are themselves involved in food production or food systems-related work to secure their own food access. They include: more than two billion small producers, farm labourers, rural workers, and their families, who represent a large proportion of the moderately and severely food insecure, and may be disproportionately affected by economic shock.
Accelerated investment in food systems transformation should be a pillar of the response
The report expresses concern in particular for women who comprise 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries and account for an estimated two-thirds of the world’s 600 million poor livestock keepers.
The report says governments, technical experts, food producers, marketers, and other food market participants need to share data, information and analysis to develop a stronger understanding of the pandemic’s effects on food security, nutrition and overall food system functioning in real- time.
The UN adds that accelerated investment in food systems transformation should be a pillar of the Covid-19 response, aiming for immediate impact to sustain and improve livelihoods, while also preparing for a more inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient food system. Food systems contribute around 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions and undermine biodiversity.
According to the brief, as of late May, 368 million school children were missing out on daily school meals on which they depend.
It suggests three sets of priorities to address to protect people and to reshape and build resilient food systems:
- Mobilise to save lives and livelihoods
- Strengthen social protection systems for nutrition
- Invest in the future and transform food systems