Illustration of malnourished children

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to a 20 per cent increase in the number of undernourished persons in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries to 264 million in 2020. The Deputy Managing Director, IMF, Antoinette Sayeh, made the disclosure in Washington during a conversation on ‘Supporting Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and Climate Change.’ A statement on the Fund’s website quoted Sayeh as saying, “The Sub-Saharan Africa has made substantial economic and social progress over the past two decades. Yet, the region is facing difficult challenges, including vulnerability to climate change. “Indeed, we have seen a marked increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, which are driving the desertification of the Sahel, for example, and threatening growth, employment opportunities and food security. Climate change can also act as a multiplier for conflict and fragility in the region. “The COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted production, imports and supply chains of food, resulting in volatile and rising food prices. And that, along with falling incomes from the pandemic, has led to an increase in the number of undernourished in the region by 20 per cent in one year to reach 264 million in 2020.