Data released today indicate that 81% of 1,200 households surveyed reported that the covid-19 pandemic “had a negative impact on their food and income sources”.
About 40% had to adopt several alternatives to deal with the problem including reducing their daily food consumption.
The data is part of a Rapid Food Security Assessment carried out in May in various parts of Timor-Leste by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with support from Oxfam, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, ADRA and the nutrition program and TOMAK agriculture.
“A global hunger pandemic is emerging as a result of the covid-19 crisis,” says Oxfam, in a statement sent to Lusa.
“In Timor-Leste, many families already report fewer sources of income and less food supply. Support for agriculture could prevent a hunger crisis ”, he maintains.
Kathy Richards, Oxfam's national director in Timor-Leste, welcomes the authorities' response to the pandemic, preventing the virus from spreading in the community.
However, he notes that, at the same time, many families “face difficulties with an impact on their sources of food or income”, in some cases aggravating already precarious situations.
“Before the covid-19 crisis, farmers in Timor-Leste were already dealing with a rainy season of 2019-2020 with great challenges, dealing with livestock diseases such as African swine fever, crop pests and erratic rains” , he noticed.
Richards notes that the covid-19 crisis “has become an issue far beyond health”, with a major impact on the food sector that requires “coordinated interventions at various levels of government ministries to improve food security in rural communities”.
“We have to ensure that in Timor-Leste the covid-19 crisis does not widen inequalities in rural areas,” he says, making the organization's support available.
“This is an opportunity to recover better and show greater sustainable investment in the agricultural sector in Timor-Leste – a key to Timor-Leste's social and economic recovery and long-term sustainability”, he considers.
Globally, Oxfam notes the increasing impact of covid-19 on hunger and food insecurity, estimating that worldwide, between April and September, up to 6,500 people may die of hunger directly linked to the pandemic issue.
The organization refers to a “systemic failure in food systems” that “is causing inequality and hunger”.
According to the World Food Program and the International Food Policy Research Institute, 265 million people are currently on the verge of hunger, more than double that of the 2008 food crisis.
Over 150 million people are likely to face food insecurity.
Timor-Leste does not currently have active cases of covid-19.
ASP // VM
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