15 October 2020

Media Advisory - World Food Day

B-roll – Namibia locust infestation (showing locusts over Zambezi river and on land) 

  • Communities in Namibia have faced drought and COVID-19, which have impacted on people’s impact source of income and ability to grow food. Now locust swarms are endangering the upcoming planting season, bringing in another crisis that increases people’s vulnerability, food production and access to food.  
  • The British Red Cross and the Namibian Red Cross will be working with local communities to support access to new farming techniques so that crops can withstand extreme weather such as floods and drought, so families have enough food to eat.  
  • They are also starting to support families to build up savings which they can use to meet their food needs during challenging times like these.

Alexander Matheou, Executive Director of International for the British Red Cross, said: 

“We stand on the precipice of disaster as climate change collides with coronavirus to create a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions. From droughts, to floods and plagues of locusts that destroy crops, climate related disasters are not only likely to affect people’s ability to prevent the transmission of coronavirus, they are also destroying vital food sources, as coronavirus restrictions continue to aggravate the loss of livelihoods and reduce the food available in markets. 

“We need to replace dated systems that only focus on relief after a disaster has hit with longer-term interventions that help communities withstand emergencies and recover quickly. This pandemic has shown the importance of tracking global risks and testing how prepared we are to deal with them and lessen their impact.  

“Neither the climate threat, nor the Covid-19 pandemic will be solved overnight, but these crises do threaten to reverse decades of humanitarian and development work to eradicate poverty and hunger, unless we turn our global commitments into actions, now.” 

  •  The climate crisis is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.  
  • As the weather becomes more extreme and unpredictable it also compromises people’s ability to grow food to feed their families.  
  • Global hunger could double as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the UN.  
  • In 2019, close to 750 million – or nearly one in ten people in the world – were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.[1] 
  • An estimated 2 billion people in the world did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in 2019.[2] 
  • According to the World Food Programme, 270 million people are nearing the brink of starvation.[3]  
  • As a humanitarian organisation with over 150 years’ experience, the British Red Cross is concerned about the colliding force of climate and the Covid-19 pandemic.  
  • Climate related disasters are likely to affect people’s ability to prevent transmission, as well as respond to and recover from the virus. 
  • Lockdown restrictions will further aggravate the loss of livelihoods and reduce the food available in markets.  

-END- 

[1] http://www.fao.org/3/ca9692en/online/ca9692en.html#chapter-Key_message  
[2] Ibid 
[3] https://insight.wfp.org/world-must-step-up-not-back-to-avoid-coronavirus-induced-hunger-pandemic-a745944bc9e9