LESSONS FROM INDIA'S FOOD SAFETY NETS & RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist|December 2020
2020 marks not just a watershed moment for humanity in terms of health, social and economic disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic but also one of the most challenging periods for the developmental gains that the world leaders and institutions have made over decades towards ending poverty and hunger.
BISHOW PARAJULI*

Living with the virus for close to a year, nations and communities have seen not just the worst aspects of the pandemic but have also seen validation of some of the longstanding humanitarian values that will help us survive and will enable us to build back better.

Hunger and food security are two of the most basic and cross-cutting agendas that are critical for attaining all other rights and entitlements.

Like everything else, the Coronavirus has made the situation of hunger grim across the world and particularly in areas and communities that are most vulnerable. The livelihoods of millions of people have been compromised, and many more millions are likely to be hungry because of the pandemic’s impact on economies, job loss, disruption of supply chains, production systems, and access to aid and food support. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated that COVID-19 will increase the number of people facing acute food insecurity around the world – up to 265 million in 2020, up by 130 million. Over 690 million people go to bed hungry every night.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 has been conferred on WFP for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

The pandemic has also highlighted the interconnectedness and importance of an equitable, healthier, and resilient global food system. Though we are still grappling to understand the longterm impacts, this crisis presents an opportunity to rethink the food system and how we should produce, distribute, and consume food.

We must not forget that the food systems and agriculture are under strain due to Climate Change, increasing risk especially among ecologically vulnerable communities, and ecologically sensitive geographies. At a broader level, it tells us to continue with a systemic approach to food systems, with local, national, regional, and global integration.

The WFP believes that three pillars of intervention are central to fixing food system challenges, especially in the COVID19: National social protection systems; Basic service delivery, and Resilient Food Systems.

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