By Joke Falaju
United Nation Ambassadors have, on behalf of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), launched a Coronavirus Relief Fund of $200million for rural communities to prevent economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic from triggering a global hunger and food crisis. The UN ambassadors, actor, filmmaker and humanitarian, Idris Elba and actress, model and activist, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, said the appeal fund comes with a $40million seed money from IFAD, the multi-donor COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility.
The aim of the appeal fund is to raise at least an additional $200million from governments, foundations and the private sector to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on rural small-scale farmers and producers.
The facility would, among others, help farmers continue to grow their crops, keep their businesses open and maintain access to financial services and markets as their countries go into lockdown and movements are restricted.
The facility is part of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for urgent and coordinated actions across the UN system in support of putting an end to the global pandemic and reducing its economic and social consequences.
Commenting on the facility’s launch, President IFAD, Gilbert F. Houngbo, observed that “developing countries are already particularly vulnerable to this pandemic, and unless we act now and act quickly, it might become a major food and hunger crisis. He continued: “COVID-19 confirms what we know from Ebola, SARS and other crises, that our world is one world and that the impact of disease, climate change, poverty, hunger and inequality cannot be contained within a country or region.
“The ripple, effects touch us all but have an especially devastating impact on those already poor and hungry. We need to invest in them and in keeping food systems running through this pandemic, so that the world’s most vulnerable people can still feed their families and earn an income.”
Commenting, Sabrina Elba said: “the crisis has shown us we are only as safe as our most vulnerable people. It is in all our interests to keep local food systems going, protect rural communities and mitigate a health crisis as people who lose their jobs in the city head back to rural areas.”
Contributing, Idris Elba pointed out that , “the world’s advanced economies are in the midst of this pandemic right now, and of course, they must do everything they can to help their own people. Every death is one death too many at a time like this. But the fact is, global action is also a matter of self-interest. As long as the pandemic is still raging anywhere, it will pose a threat everywhere.” He stressed the need to further support IFAD, “to carry on the work that is desperately needed to keep food systems operating in rural areas if we are to come out of this crisis together and avoid needless hunger and suffering.”
The International body observed that they have recently seen that food prices are already rising even as productivity and household incomes are falling in some countries affected by the pandemic.
In response, IFAD is already at work securing food supply chains in a number of countries by ensuring farmers can access seeds and other inputs; facilitating the purchase and storage of produce; and working with governments to keep transport routes open to farmers so they can sell their goods. It is hoped that these measures will help avert a potential food and hunger crisis – one that would have particularly harsh effects on vulnerable people in developing countries.