Corona measures threaten food security poorest countries

May 1, 2020

The accessibility of food in underdeveloped and developing nations is under threat as a result of the coronavirus. This is the conclusion of a recent explorative study conducted by researchers of Wageningen University & Research. Further study is needed to determine the trends.

The food systems in these countries are vulnerable, even without the current corona crisis. The problem is not so much the production of food, but rather the distribution. Access to markets, social networks and institutions are key the food distribution, and it is primarily these that have been affected by the corona mitigating measures. An illustrative example is that children in these countries often depend on school meals. Now that schools are closed, they miss out on an essential part of their daily diet.

The explorative study was conducted by a limited number (31) of field scientists in 18 countries in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.  

  • Food markets could be affected by limitations in the supply and distribution of food following trade restrictions. Furthermore, export restrictions have severe economic consequences.
  • Availability of food is expected to diminish in urban areas. Particularly fresh vegetables and fruits (all countries) and animal products (some countries) will become scarce.
  • The closing of (super)markets, long queues and social distancing rules limit access to food.
  • In all countries involved, the schools are closed. In some countries, school meals are an essential source of nutrients for children. This may negatively impact these children's diet.

As a result of these trends, the researchers expect these countries will require relief aid to maintain their food supplies.