Around 2.8 million in the English-speaking Caribbean are food insecure

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, an estimated 2.8 million people, or nearly 40% of the population in the English-speaking Caribbean, are food insecure – 1 million more than in April 2020 – and the situation is further aggravated by rising food prices and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

This is according to a press release from the United Nations in Guyana, which said a survey found that severe food insecurity continues to rise in the region, with the current figure 72% higher than in April 2020. .

According to the statement, the survey conducted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) revealed a deterioration in food consumption and diets, with 25% of respondents eating less preferred foods, 30% skipping meals or eating less than usual and 5% going an entire day without eating in the week before the survey, which she said were all attributed to the lasting impact of the pandemic.

According to the statement, WFP Representative and Country Director for the Caribbean Cluster Office, Regis Chapman, said “an import-dependent region, the Caribbean continues to feel the socio-economic pressure of COVID-19 which is now compounded. by the conflict in Ukraine.

“With most COVID-19 assistance programs now over, many families are expected to face an even greater challenge in meeting their basic food and other essential needs in the coming months,” he said. he said in the statement.

According to the statement, high food prices also continue to affect people’s ability to afford nutritious food, with 93% of respondents reporting higher food prices, up from 59% in April 2020; while adding that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is expected to create an even deeper impact on the cost of basic goods and services in the Caribbean.

According to the statement, the head of the agricultural and agro-industrial development program at the CARICOM secretariat, Shaun Baugh, said that the assessment of the impact of the pandemic on the livelihoods and food security of more than 20 000 people surveyed over the past two years, has provided the Secretariat with “invaluable” data that is now being used to inform regional priorities in the short and medium term.

“In the short to medium term, pressure is increasing on governments to identify solutions that allow families to meet their basic needs,” the statement said, while indicating that “innovation in agrifood systems and supply chains Regional supply chains, coupled with continued support to the most vulnerable households, will be key to improving the resilience of regional food systems so that prices can be kept as stable as possible.

CARICOM, WFP and other partners continue to work together to increase resilience to shocks through more effective, sustainable and responsive disaster management, social protection and food systems, according to the statement. needs of those most affected by the crises.

The statement said the survey was supported by the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

Michael M. Tomlin