“If you’re hungry, it’s easy to get sick from stress and everything,” says Mduduzi Khumalo, who has been queuing up every day for the past two weeks. To get food, your name must be on the list, and so far, despite several registrations, hers has not been.
Khumalo worked as a delivery man before the coronavirus lockout in South Africa decimated his income. Her children used to eat two meals a day at school, but the schools are closed now. Every day the children wait for him in the family’s tiny house and every day brings the same bad news.
“They know if I don’t get anything for them it’s over,” Khumalo told CBS News.
Famines “of biblical proportions”
The coronavirus pandemic has left the world facing an unprecedented hunger crisis. The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has warned that by the end of the year, more than 260 million people will be at risk of starvation – double the figures from last year.
“In the worst-case scenario, we could contemplate starvation in around three dozen countries,” said WFP director David Beasley. He said the world could face many
Oil prices have collapsed, tourism is drying up, and remittances abroad – foreign workers transferring money to families in other countries – on which many depend for their livelihood, are expected to fall sharply .
There is “a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself,” said Beasley.
Particularly threatened sub-Saharan Africa
If global GDP declines by 5% due to the pandemic, an additional 147 million people could be plunged into extreme poverty, according to estimates by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute.
More than half of these people – 79 million – live in sub-Saharan Africa, David Laborde Debucquet, principal investigator at IFPRI, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 42 million more are in South Asia, he said.
“We are talking about (people) earning less than $ 1.90 a day … where basically your life is in danger because, when you have this type of poverty and you cannot eat, you will die,” Debucquet told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It will affect the urban poor much more. Over the past two decades, we have seen very rapid urbanization in these two regions. “
“I’m afraid of getting sick and I’m afraid of starving. “
Thandi Lebho, 39, lives in the South African township of Diepsloot. She and her husband and three children have been waiting for food donations for three weeks. They have not been able to get what they need since the lockdown began in South Africa and its revenues from the sale of tupperware containers have dried up.
“I signed up online and over the phone, and I write on the street papers, and I came here to the clinic and signed up, but nothing happened,” she said. told CBS News. When she manages to get to the food distribution truck, she is already short of supplies.
“Children don’t go to school and education is bad. We have a hard time getting money because I work for myself. I’m a self-employed person – so my business is at home – so I’m not earning anything now, “she says. “I’m starving now. I have nothing. “
She’ll be back in the food chain tomorrow, trying to get something to keep her family alive.
“I’m afraid of getting sick and I’m afraid of starving,” she says.