Even though they may not have yet been directly ravaged by the virus, the world’s poorest people may yet suffer some of the pandemic’s greatest losses—in the form of growing hunger.
“There’s a huge covid impact which is economic, and that is drowning out the disease itself,” Mark Lowcock, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said an interview last week.
The global economy is now expected to shrink this year by at least 3 percent, delivering a direct hit to the primary goods exports, remittances and tourism on which many poor countries subsist.
According to Lowcock, for the first time in 30 years, the percentage of the world’s population in extreme poverty—those living on less than $1.90 a day—will increase.
At the beginning of 2020, the United Nations reckoned that 130 million people would be at risk of starvation. “Now we think there will be 265 million,” Lowcock said. “We could have mass hunger and multiple famines.”