Story at a glance

  • In April, the head of the WFP warned of devastating famines in dozens of countries due to the ramifications of COVID-19.
  • World leaders responded with funds and stimulus packages and managed to avoid the worst-case scenario.
  • Now as the coronavirus continues to surge, prompting another wave of shutdowns, David Beasley says funding that was available this year will not be available in 2021.

The head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is once again warning that the world is at risk of widespread famine as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reports. 

In April, WFP Executive Director David Beasley told the UN Security Council devastating famines could break out in dozens of countries in the developing world due to the effects of COVID-19 restrictions if action wasn’t taken. 


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World leaders responded with funds and stimulus packages and managed to avoid the worst-case scenario. But now as the coronavirus continues to surge, prompting another wave of shutdowns, Beasley says funding that was available this year will not be available in 2021. 

“We were able to avert it in 2020,” Beasley told The Associated Press in an interview, but said without billions of dollars “we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021.” 

WFP needs $15 billion next year to avoid famine and to carry out the agency’s programs around the globe.

“If I could get that coupled with our normal money, then we avert famine around the world,” he told the news outlet. 

In October, the WFP was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to fight hunger and food insecurity in conflict-affected areas around the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Beasley said he’s been using the spotlight to warn world leaders that 2021 will be a more challenging year and to raise extra money from governments. 

Beasley said in April 135 million people faced "crisis levels of hunger or worse" in 2020 and an additional 130 million could be pushed to the brink of starvation by 2021. But during a virtual interview Wednesday, he said the number of people facing crisis levels of hunger has risen to 270 million. 

He said three dozen countries could experience famine if WFP doesn’t receive the necessary funding. 

Countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Nigeria were particularly at risk.


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Published on Nov 16, 2020