According to the United Nations, tens of millions of people are going hungry in Latin America and the Caribbean as the Covid-19 outbreak intensifies a regional malnutrition crisis to its worst levels in decades.
According to a new United Nations Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition report, the number of people living with hunger in the region increased by 30%, or 13.8 million people, in only one year, from 2019 to 2020.
While the coronavirus is a health risk in and of itself, the pandemic’s economic consequences have resulted in empty pantries. In a place where missing work one day might mean going hungry the next, months of lockdowns and travel restrictions have disproportionately impacted informal jobs.
Food insecurity disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people in society, according to the UN. Women are becoming more hungry than men across the region.
In 2020, nearly 42% of women, compared to 32% of males, experienced moderate or severe food insecurity. According to the survey, the gap has been widening in recent years, with a surge from 6.4 percent to 9.6 percent in the first year of the epidemic.
The overall situation, according to Julio Berdegué, regional representative for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is “serious,” and the epidemic has severely exacerbated existing food shortages.
According to the UN report, 59.7 million people in the region are currently hungry, the largest number since 2000.
In Guatemala, approximately half of the population is food insecure. El Salvador and Honduras have roughly identical percentages, with around 47 percent and 46 percent of their populations respectively going hungry.
These three countries, known as the Northern Triangle, serve as staging areas for migrant caravans en route to the United States’ southern border in search of a better life.
According to the research, Argentina has seen the most dramatic increase in food insecurity in recent years, with more than a third of the population having limited access to food as a result of a lengthy economic collapse that resurrected the threat of hyperinflation.
Meanwhile, the region is suffering from another sort of malnutrition: obesity.
According to the survey, 106 million people are overweight, or one out of every four adults, and paediatric obesity is on the rise.