FIAN International, in its role as Secretariat of the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition (GNRTFN), is very concerned about the current global situation triggered by the pandemic of COVID-19. The rapid expansion of the virus is exacerbating systematic violations of the right to food and nutrition that the organization, together with other CSOs and social movements, has been fighting against for decades. It is a critical moment, not only for those affected directly by the virus, but also for those negatively impacted by measures put in place to halt its spread.
COVID-19 is leading to a global health emergency, with the potential to trigger both a food and broader human rights crises. The impacts of the pandemic and the measures to counteract it are expected to aggravate ongoing human rights violations, as well as the structural causes that prompt them. These include the abandonment of small-scale food producers in favor of agro-industrial food production by transnational corporations, as well as the lack of social protection and policies assisting those most affected by crises of this scale. There are many other impacts, which vary from country to country, depending on their availability of resources and infrastructure, as well as on their administrative and financial capacity, among other factors.
As echoed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) last week, as a result of the current situation, food availability is affected in both the short- and long-term, particularly vis-à-vis those most vulnerable.
“Food access is also compromised, in particular for those working in sectors that are likely to see job losses due to the recession as well for the poor who are likely to be made worse off. Nutrition is likely to be affected as people shift diets to more affordable as well as more shelf-stable and pre-packaged foods (which may be less nutritious) and as fresh fruits and vegetables become less available due to panic buying and disruptions in food systems. Stability is compromised as the markets themselves are highly unstable leading to a great degree of uncertainty. Lastly, people’s ability to exercise agency over their relationship to food systems is compromised as inequalities are increased,” reads the CFS statement.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, several members and partners of the GNRTFN have identified and tracked the impacts of the crisis on people and communities. They are also following closely the measures adopted by national or local governments, negatively affecting access, availability and sustainability of food. In response, they have also identified some innovative, people-centered, proposals to ensure the right to food and other related human rights in the current situation.
The call to action illustrates some negative, but also innovative examples and encourages coordinated monitoring and response by the network, together with other organizations working to counteract the impact of COVID-19 on the right to food and nutrition and related rights.
You can read the call here.