175 million jobs may be lost
52 million more people in Asia could be classified as extreme poor
The COVID-19 pandemic is set to severely derail development gains in Asian and Pacific nations.
It compounds pre-crisis levels of food insecurity and malnutrition with job losses, supply chain disruptions, and declines in revenue from key exports and remittances.
Globally, WFP predicts that the number of people facing acute food insecurity around the world will almost double to 270 million, including 121 million newly food insecure due to COVID-19.
Afghanistan, Nepal, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are among the countries most at risk due to high dependency on food imports and remittances as well as a drop in revenue from exports. In Afghanistan alone, nearly 3 million additional people may experience acute food insecurity.
Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Lao PDR also are likely to be severely affected by lost incomes and livelihoods.
Food production is generally not yet impacted by the pandemic, but supply chains and the availability of labour have been disrupted by measures taken to contain the virus. Common natural hazards in the region, such as drought, floods, landslides and storms may also jeopardize supplies in some places and put further pressure on food security. Conflict and insecurity also compound the risk of hunger in some countries in Asia and the Pacific.
Slum dwellers, informal labourers and low-paid daily wage workers from affected sectors like tourism and export industries are among those most at risk of hunger and malnutrition due to income loss.
Very few of these groups have access to national social protection systems.
Many governments across Asia and the Pacific have launched short-term emergency relief programmes to reduce the human, social and economic pain inflicted by COVID-19. But many of the needy families are being left out and require urgent attention.