The chief of the World Food Program states the Nobel Peace Prize has provided the UN agency a spotlight and megaphone to caution world leaders that next year is going to be more threatening than this year, and without billions of dollars “we are going to have famines of biblical ratios in 2021. The Associated Press that the Norwegian Nobel Committee was looking at the work the agency does every day in conflicts, disasters, and refugee camps, often putting staffers’ lives at risk to feed millions of hungry people but also to send “a message to the world that it’s getting worse out there that our hardest work is yet to come.”
Beasley identified his caution to the UN Security Council in April that as the world was negotiating with the coronavirus pandemic, it was also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if prompt action wasn’t taken.
“We were able to avert it in 2020 because the world leaders responded with money, stimulus packages, deferral of debt,” he said. Covid-19 is spreading again, economies are persisting to decline particularly in low- and middle-income countries and there is another surge of lockdowns and shutdowns. The money that was accessible in 2020 isn’t going to be available in 2021, so Beasley has been using the Nobel to meet leaders virtually and individually, talk to parliaments and give speeches to educate those with power to “this tragedy that we are facing crises that really are going to be extraordinary over the next, who knows, 12 to 18 months.”
“Everybody now wants to meet with the Nobel Peace Prize winner,” Beasley said, describing he now gets 45 minutes rather than 15 minutes with leaders and can go into deep and explain how bad things are going to be next year and how leaders are going to have to prioritize plans. “And the response has really been good. I’m telling them you’re not going to have enough money to fund all the projects you historically fund. Those are important things,” Beasley said, but he likened the upcoming crisis to the Titanic saying “right now, we really need to focus on icebergs, and icebergs are famine, starvation, destabilization, and migration.” he said.
Beasley said WFP needs $15 billion next year $5 billion just to prevent famine and $10 billion to bring out the agency’s global programs including for undernourished children and school lunches which are often the only meal youngsters get.“If I could get that associated with our normal money, then we avert famine around the world” and undervalue destabilization as well as migration, he said.
In addition to raising additional money from governments, Beasley said, his other “great hope” is that billionaires that have made billions during the Covid-19 pandemic will step up on a one-time basis. He intends to begin stretching this message presumably in December or January. In April, Beasley said 135 million people faced “crisis levels of hunger or worse.” A WFP analysis then revealed that coronavirus could cause an extra 130 million people “to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.”
According to a collaborative estimation by WFP and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in October, 20 countries are likely to face possible tips in high acute food insecurity in the next three to six months and need an immediate lookout. Of those, “Yemen, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria, and Burkina Faso have some areas that “have reached a critical hunger situation following years of conflict or other shocks,” the U.N. agencies said, and any further decline in coming months could lead to a threat of famine. Other countries needing “urgent attention” are Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somali, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, they said.
Beasley expressed that a Covid-19 vaccine “will create some optimism that hopefully will help jump the economies around the world, particularly the Western economies. But the WFP executive director said there’s already been $17 billion of economic trigger this year “and we’re not going to have that globally. We’re very, very, very concerned” that with deferred deficit payments for low- and middle-income countries renewing in January, new lockdowns and the rippling economic consequence, “2021’s going to be a very bad year,” Beasley said.