As East Africa and South Asia grapple with one of the worst locust infestations in history, another Old Testament plague is about to hit the world in the coming months: famine. In its fourth-annual Global Report on Food Crises, the World Food Programme (WFP) — the United Nations’ food agency — found that the number of people facing starvation will almost double from 135 million to 250 million within a few months, due in large part to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley warned it would be a famine “of biblical proportions.” As countries around the world experience the fallout from a global recession, aid donations have dropped, and vulnerable people who were a week’s worth of pay away from starvation now find themselves out of work. The worst-hit countries will be those already facing severe famine, including places like Yemen, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Haiti.
“One way or another, the world will pay for this,” Beasley told the UN Security Council via a video conference. “We could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a few months. The truth is, we do not have time on our side.”
He went on to predict 30 million people may die within months if food aid is not received, particularly difficult in war-torn areas like Yemen, which was set to see half its aid cut in Houthi-controlled areas.
“Our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period,” Beasley said. “This does not include the increase of starvation due to COVID-19.”
A grim picture indeed, considering 100 million people worldwide depend on the WFP for food. He pleaded with warring nations, which are explicitly linked to famine in the annual report, to give “swift and unimpeded access” to humanitarian workers. He also asked for $350 million to create a global logistics network to get the food supply where it’s most needed.
Given that, Beasley was also cautiously optimistic.
“I do believe that with our expertise and our partnerships, we can bring together the teams and programs necessary to make certain the COVID-19 pandemic does not become a human and food crisis catastrophe,” he said.
Though there is certainly no shortage of deserving organizations helping those affected by COVID-19 right now, if you feel compelled to donate to the WFP, it accepts donations here. While the United States struggles with its own spiking unemployment and uncertain future, keep in mind there are a lot of places in the world that have it a lot worse. And though God has not smitten us with plagues quite yet, it’s always good to keep everything in perspective.