Giving Compass' Take:

• Omer Karasapan, at Brookings, exposes the interwoven, disparate effects of COVID-19 and food security failures in North Africa and the Middle East.

• COVID-19 and food security are two global issues that often go unaddressed in marginalized areas of the world. How are you working to send resources to countries that need them the most during the pandemic?

• Learn about why your giving is of the utmost importance in responding to COVID-19 and food security needs.

The Global Network Against Food Crisis, an alliance of United Nations and partner agencies, cautioned this year that the COVID- 19 pandemic could lead to 265 million people suffering from “acute food insecurity, which requires urgent food, nutrition, and livelihoods assistance for survival,” that is, a food crisis.

So far, the worst has been averted; global cereal stocks are twice as large as they were in the 2007-2008 food crisis, shipping is 20 times cheaper, and oil is below $40.

Nevertheless, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remains one of the areas most vulnerable to a food crisis. MENA countries are among the world’s largest food importers: Most depend on imports for over half their needs. This is also the world’s most water-stressed region with massive subsidies for water and agriculture and a preponderant, if ultimately unsustainable, role for the state as many countries still pursue the chimera of cheap staple foods and self-sufficiency in cereal production rather than local and international market-driven solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has yet to run its course and a vaccination seems at least a year away, not to mention the time to get it to populations across the world. A renewed coronavirus surge in MENA in the summer will further test the resilience of many countries and most will require additional outside support.

In the meantime, the U.N. calls on “governments, international development partners, donors and the private sector” to address the “availability, access and affordability of safe and nutritious foods and protect the nutrition of … vulnerable families.” The most immediate measures proposed are ensuring that food supply chains keep moving and foods remain available while protecting the incomes and livelihoods of those dependent on agriculture, casual labor, and the newly jobless.

Read the full article about COVID-19 and food security in the Middle East by Omer Karasapan at Brookings.