“So it was truly a gift from above,” said Beasley, recalling the surprise and joy of the 20,000 WFP staff around the world, and his own shock at being interrupted at a meeting in Niger. in the Sahel region of Africa with the news.
“We were able to avoid it in 2020… because world leaders responded with money, stimulus packages, debt deferral,” he said.
Now, Beasley said, COVID-19 is on the rise again, economies continue to deteriorate, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and there is another wave of lockdowns and closures.
But he said the money available in 2020 will not be available in 2021, so he used the Nobel to meet with leaders virtually and in person, speak to parliaments and make speeches to raise awareness of those in power to tragedy at that we are facing – crises that are really going to be extraordinary over the next 12-18 months, who knows. ”
“Everyone now wants to meet the Nobel Peace Prize laureate,” Beasley said, explaining that he now has 45 minutes instead of 15 minutes with leaders and is able to dig deeper and deeper into explain how bad things are going to be next year and how leaders are going to have to prioritize programs. “And the response has been really good,” he said.
“I tell them that you are not going to have enough money to fund all the projects that you fund historically,” he said.
“These are important things,” Beasley said, but he compared the coming crisis to the Titanic, saying, “right now we really need to focus on the icebergs, and the icebergs are famine, famine, starvation. destabilization and migration. ”
Beasley said WFP needs $ 15 billion next year – $ 5 billion just to avert famine and $ 10 billion to carry out the agency’s global programs, including for children in pain. malnutrition and school meals which are often the only meals young people receive.
“If I could match this with our normal money, then we are preventing famine in the world” and minimizing destabilization as well as migration. he said.
In addition to raising additional funds from governments, Beasley said, his other “big hope” is that the billionaires who made billions during the COVID-19 pandemic will step up on a one-time basis. He plans to start getting this message across probably in December or January.
In April, Beasley said 135 million people were facing “hunger crisis levels or worse”. A WFP analysis then showed that COVID = 19 could push 130 million more people “to the brink of famine by the end of 2020”.
He said in Wednesday’s virtual interview from Rome, where WFP is based, that if famine has been averted this year, the number of people facing hunger crisis levels is rising to 270 million.
“There are about three dozen countries that could potentially go into famine conditions if we don’t have the money we need,” Beasley said.
According to a joint analysis by WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in October, 20 countries “risk facing potential spikes in acute high food insecurity” in the next three to six months , “And require urgent attention”.
Of these, Yemen, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Burkina Faso have regions that “have reached critical hunger after years of conflict or other shocks,” said UN agencies, and any further deterioration in the coming months “could lead to a risk of famine.” ”
Other countries requiring “urgent attention” are Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, they said.
Beasley said that a COVID-19 vaccine “will create some optimism that will hopefully help boost economies around the world, especially Western economies. But the WFP executive director said there was already $ 17 billion in economic stimulus this year “and we’re not going to have that globally.”
“We’re very, very, very worried” that with the resumption of deferred debt payments for low- and middle-income countries in January, the new lockdowns and the economic fallout, “2021 is going to be a very bad year,” he said. Beasley said.