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COVID-19 Deepens Hunger and Poverty Globally, Impacts on Food Security in Timor-Leste

Thursday, July 9, 2020
COVID-19 Deepens Hunger and Poverty Globally, Impacts on Food Security in Timor-Leste

A global hunger pandemic is emerging as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. In Timor-Leste, many families are already reporting dwindling income sources and lower food supplies. Targeted support for agriculture is required to avoid a hunger crisis.

81% of households reported that the pandemic negatively impacted their food and income sources, in a May 2020 Rapid Food Security Assessment of over 1200 households across Timor-Leste. 40% of households had to cope by reducing daily food consumption. The Food Security Assessment was led by Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) with support from Oxfam, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, ADRA, and the nutrition and agriculture program, To’os ba Moris Diak (TOMAK)

“The Government of Timor-Leste is to be commended for its response to COVID and ensuring that the virus has not taken hold in communities. This is a major lifesaving achievement. At the same time, we are observing families facing hardships where their sources of food or income have been impacted” said Kathy Richards, Oxfam in Timor-Leste’s Country Director.

“Before the COVID-19 crisis, farmers in Timor-Leste had already experienced a challenging 2019-2020 wet season, dealing with livestock diseases such as African Swine Fever, crop pests such as Fall Army Worm, and erratic rainfall”

The COVID-19 crisis has become more than a health issue. The food security assessment showed food insecurity issues go hand in hand with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The Assessment recommended coordinated interventions in various levels of government ministries that need to take place to improve food security for rural communities.  

We need to ensure that COVID-19 crisis does not widen inequality in rural areas of Timor-Leste. We are ready to support MAF and the Government of Timor-Leste to lead the country out of this crisis. This is an opportunity to build back better and show increased sustainable investment in the agriculture sector in Timor-Leste – a key to Timor-Leste’s social and economic recovery and long-term sustainability”.

Global hunger on the rise

Worldwide food security and hunger issues during the COVID-19 crisis are a growing concern. An Oxfam briefing warns that as many as 12,000 people could die per day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than from the disease.

Systemic failure in food systems is driving inequality and hunger. According to the World Food Program and International Food Policy Research Institute, 265 million people are currently on the brink of starvation, more than double compared to the food crisis in 2008. An additional 150 million people are likely to face food insecurity.

Contact information: 

For more information please contact, Lucio Savio, Inclusive Development Program Manager, Oxfam in Timor-Leste, telefone +670 77410476, ka email lucios@oxfam.org.au.