Hunger & Food Insecurity is Widespread in St Lucia
By Catherine Sealys - President
COVID-19 arrived at a time of unprecedented need, with a record number of people already requiring humanitarian assistance at the beginning of 2020 as poverty levels have been rising steadily prior to covid-19, with a number of women headed households losing their jobs, people are going hungry on a daily basis and many more are experiencing acute food insecurity since May 2020.
CONSTRAINED ability of women to feed themselves and their families before and during this covid-19 pandemic is already affecting large sections of our population; price increases further inhibit equitable access to quality nutritious food. Increasing rates of infection and widespread fear of infection, coupled with restrictive social distancing measures, are affecting marginalized and vulnerable populations the most. These issues will lead to more severe food insecurity and higher rates of malnutrition in the long term for poor families. This will place more stress on poor families to make ends meet when they are hit by higher food costs and a drop in informal job opportunities. Moreover, spiking food prices could potentially lead to social unrest and instability.
Severe lockdown approaches over the last few months/weeks are not supported by broad and inclusive social protection systems to protect and provide basic needs for families and individuals whose livelihoods have been disrupted. The Government of Saint Lucia has not initiated mitigating strategy and these sudden and possibly extended measures have the potential to be catastrophic to poor families. As COVID-19 evolves, so too must responses, moving from blanket approaches to more flexible, contextually feasible strategies such as flexible lockdowns may be a more effective approach, a pro-poor model of social distancing, especially for highly vulnerable groups with limited resources and resilience should prove beneficial to families and the Government.
We have moved to a more targeted approach to food distribution i.e. we review every request and make a decision to assist with food parcels as we do not have the capacity to do large scale food distribution because of lack of funding and donations.
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