A report released this week by the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) warns that social and economic measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 could create a food crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean, threatening nearly 14 million people with food insecurity.
The WFP estimates that in 2019, there were already 3.4 million people in the region facing food insecurity – that is, they were not able to meet their basic food needs. But speaking in Geneva Friday, WFP Senior Spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to push another 10 million people into food insecurity.
The WFP runs projects in Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Peru and other small island developing states in the Caribbean. Byrs says she is particularly concerned about Haiti, where, she says 700,000 people are already facing severe food shortages. She expects that number to jump to 1.6 million in the coming months.
The WFP is urging governments in the region to adapt and expand programs to serve the most vulnerable populations. They also urged the general public to make donations to the WFP or directly to food programs in their countries.