Unpacking the Impacts of COVID-19 on Long-Term Food Security
This brief was written by Willem Verhagen at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver under USAID's Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC). You can view the full brief here.
The challenge of undernourishment
In 2019, more than 10 percent of people around the world experienced food insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this crisis in the short term. If lessons from previous pandemics and economic crises hold true, there is real risk that the adverse effects of COVID-19 on food security will persist. Policies should be considered to reduce long-term risk to food insecurity. We use undernourishment as our core indicator of food insecurity driven by changes in mean caloric consumption and the distribution of that consumption within the population. Using the International Futures model, we project trends in undernourishment to 2040 across 186 countries. We then develop three scenarios to project the effects of COVID-19 on undernourishment:
- A baseline COVID-19 Current Path scenario uses existing data and trends to simulate the impacts of COVID-19 through changes in economic growth, inequality, education loss, and rises in government debt.
- A more pessimistic COVID-19 Unequal Paths scenario describes a world in which the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic worsen and inequalities between countries rise, with additional adverse effects primarily falling on low- and middle-income countries.
- A counterfactual No-COVID scenario projects long-term development trends globally, had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred.