Monday, October 26, 2020

Feed the vulnerable to avert food humanitarian crisis – Researcher

There is need to carry out needs assessment and data analysis to monitor the food security situation as Covid-19 continues to upend food systems, a researcher has said.

Speaking to The Telegraph, grain and cereal researcher Lakayana Sepapi indicated that there is need for government to take coordinated action to prevent Covid-19 pandemic from turning into a food and humanitarian crisis.

“The effects of Covid-19 are becoming clearer by the day. If you go into the shops you will find that the price of food has increased since the first lockdown in April. This means an increasing number of people will not be able to afford to buy nutritious food,” says Sepapi.

She also says Botswana lacks proper food security monitoring systems which can accurately foresee the impact of the pandemic. “There is need for policymakers to pay attention to people in vulnerable situations, the poor people and infants to make sure that they receive nutritious and sufficient food during and post Covid-19,” she says.

Amongst other things, she said the fact that a lot of people did not receive food baskets shows that the situation in the rural areas might be dire.

“Nutritional support activities aiming at preventing acute malnutrition and improving access to nutritious food have been affected by this pandemic,” says Sepapi adding that “what the country must do now is to invest in tools that can enhance crisis response during this crisis and after the pandemic has been contained.”

She said in clear cut terms that vulnerable rural and urban populations are of immediate concern and must be priorirised to ensure continuous access to essential food and nutrition needs.

“Expand near-real time food security monitoring systems to provide timely, improved and geospatially indicative data to measure the pandemic’s unfolding effects and understand better who is suffering from hunger and malnutrition and where they are,” says Sepapi.

A policy brief from the United Nations (UN) also says in order to reshape and build resilient food systems, countries must strengthen social protection systems for nutrition to protect food access for the most vulnerable, mobilise to save lives and livelihoods focusing attention where the risk is most acute; and lastly invest in a sustainable future in order to achieve resilient food systems.

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