Event Recap

New Atlanticist

May 8, 2020

WFP’s David Beasley warns of dire famines in Africa, Mideast if COVID-19 supply chains damage continues

By Larry Luxner

Up to 300,000 people could starve to death every day if the COVID-19 pandemic ruptures global food supply chains—even more than the roughly 275,000 people who have died of the disease worldwide so far.

Coronavirus International Markets

In 2020, the United Nations predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation. In a worst-case scenario, famines could emerge in about three dozen countries as the coronavirus-induced global economic recession, coupled with declining commodity prices and reduced levels of international aid, left countries with vast food shortages. This “hunger pandemic” could ultimately kill more people than COVID-19 itself. Of the ten countries labeled most at-risk of famine, five of them are in Africa: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nigeria. The hunger crises in these countries is compounded by political unrest and, in the Horn of Africa, by the worst locust infestation in a quarter century. In the face of these heightened threats to food security, a multi-pronged response is needed. It is with this imperative in mind that the Africa Center convened a discussion with Gov. David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, to discuss the potential for global food shortages and the United States’ role in supporting the international response to this crisis.

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Gov. David Beasley
Executive Director
United Nations World Food Programme

Moderated by

Mr. Cameron Hudson
Senior Fellow, Africa Center
Atlantic Council

Welcome and introduction by

Mr. Damon Wilson
Executive Vice President
Atlantic Council