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According to the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), 155 million people in 55 countries and territories in 2020 faced acute food insecurity and were in need of urgent assistance, the highest number since this type of global reporting started. The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic was an important driver of the recent surge, conspiring with the structural drivers of food crises -- conflict, economic shocks, and weather extremes. These drivers are mutually reinforcing and are expected to intensify in the coming years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted trade of food and farm products, and the agricultural sector is under immense pressure to overcome trade barriers while also responding to climate change. With ongoing tensions between major economies and with current structural impacts in trade and food security, the upcoming (and now twice-postponed due to the pandemic) 12th WTO Ministerial Conference is necessary to provide an opportunity to address and reform agricultural domestic support and to update the global trade book.
The FAO Food Price Index continued to rise in November, up 1.2 percent from the previous month and 27.3 percent from November 2020. This increase, driven mostly by rising cereal and dairy prices, brought the Index to its highest level since June 2011.
Fears of COVID-19 transmission, along with social-distancing measures, have disrupted many important public services worldwide, both directly and indirectly. In India, Phuong Nguyen and colleagues conducted surveys to compare use of public health and nutrition services before, during and after COVID-19 lockdowns in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Despite extra efforts from frontline workers during and after lockdowns, services were disrupted; in addition, demand for those services decreased post-lockdown because of the fear of pandemic health risks.
Vulnerable populations need reliable information regarding how to protect themselves from the spread of the COVID-19. In this way, information becomes a form of assistance in itself, giving people the opportunity to make better choices and protect themselves and their loved ones. However, successful communication campaigns need to be designed in a thoughtful way. What is the socio-economic context? What are the main community, and potentially conflict, dynamics? What or who is driving social behavior?