Will Starvation Kill More Than COVID 19?

As the pandemic ensues, what will be the toll on the poor?

By Robert Hunt posted May 20, 2020

Worldwide, many experts agree that many more people will ultimately starve to death from the COVID 19 lockdowns than will die from sickness caused by COVID 19. This is not hard to fathom since over 24,000 people died each day from starvation before COVID-19 entered the scene, and now that nearly every developing nation has taken drastic lockdown measures, those figures are expected to rise exponentially. Compared to initially lower-than-predicted COVID-19 death statistics, hunger appears to be the larger killer. Still, some will point out that the lockdowns saved lives by prolonging the virus’ onset, allowing for less overwhelmed hospitals. Additionally, we don’t know if deaths from COVID-19 could spike and cause many more deaths than expected at this point and catch up with its tragic rival.

Lockdowns have swept the world, all in the name of avoiding impending deaths caused by a virus that was predicted to kill millions, but those predictions have, happily, proven to be far less as reality unfolds and our collective immune systems prove to be stronger than once expected by the experts. As much of a noble effort has been put into prolonging imminent exposure to the deadly virus, that does not change the fact that an exponential amount of people will starve to death in developing nations, many millions more than would otherwise starve to death had these lockdowns not taken place in impoverished nations.

As hard as it is to accurately estimate the outcome of a disease, many trusted organizations such as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at University of Washington have been working diligently to weigh the many factors that go into a well-balanced prediction. The IHME, an expert-trusted coronavirus model frequently cited by the White House is predicting that roughly 268,000 people will die from the COVID-19 virus by the time it fully subsides. If the world-wide COVID-19 death count is estimated to top off at roughly a half of a million people, then it is still a smaller amount compared to the amount of lives that will be lost to hunger over the same period. Five hundred thousand people is still only about 20 days’ worth of starvation deaths, and that is taking data from back before the COVID-19 virus came onto the scene. Now that COVID-19 is here, the statistics for starvation deaths are skyrocketing.

“The United Nations World Food Programme, or the WFP, states that by the end of the year, more than 260 million people will face starvation -- double last year's figures.”

The results of this lockdown have been devastating in the short term, but long-term they will prove to be increasingly costly as those struggling in poverty-ridden regions are tipped over the edge of hopelessness.

How the shutdown affects us vs. them

As leading nations made drastic changes to shut down as much human contact as possible, developing nations have followed suit and imposed their own strict lockdowns to slow down the inevitable onslaught of the Coronavirus. However, the average household in a leading developed nation is more capable of surviving a long period of economic downturn than the average family within a developing economy.

For example, in America, the typical family can go to the local grocery store and purchase enough food and supplies to last several weeks, even months, and they may still have sources of income, such as government subsidies or a job where they can “work from home”. Americans are also mostly allowed to go for walks and choose to have interactions with others in public if deemed necessary while facing minimal penalties from the government.

In developing countries however, the lockdown carries an entirely different set of more severe consequences that most westerners cannot begin to imagine.  Most sources of income are obtained by bringing goods and services and selling directly through “open markets”, a business model that brings in a day’s food for a day’s wages and little more. Every one of these marketplaces are completely shut down, with governments and authorities allowing very few exceptions.  

There are no $1,200 checks from the government, no guidance on how anyone will survive, no suggestion on how the people will eat. 


The only thing each person knows is that if they leave their house without having a valid reason, they will be brutally beaten, placed in jail, or even killed. In order to maintain the strict lockdown, many nations are indeed resorting to violence, the only sure deterrence to the unrest caused from those refusing to die of hunger.

Even now, in some nations, the death toll from police officers maintaining the lockdown orders is higher than the number of deaths from COVID 19. 

The people are desperate.

The great lockdown

In Uganda, the president has mandated a lockdown that not only entails a curfew, but also is forbidden to use any form of transportation.

In Honduras, if you do not have a document that gives you access to deliver food and medical supplies, you cannot leave your home. For those in mountainous villages, they have no access to food, leaving them in starvation.

In the Philippines, the police have been given the order to use “deadly force” on those that are found breaking the countries lockdown orders.

In places like Nigeria and India, there have been reports of a high amount of police-inflicted deaths of citizens over refusing to abide by the shutdown orders.

We certainly do want to be safe and flatten the curve so that hospitals do not get exhausted too quickly, but there is no good way to do that in a developing nation. They do not have a government bailout or savings to fall back on. They do not have family members to ask for help or a local food bank to go to. They do not have access to pensions, sick leave, paid leave or any kind of insurance.

Incidentally, those that get COVID 19 will be more at risk of being a casualty due to sub-par hospital conditions, lack of adequate supplies, limited ventilators, and furthermore they have an increased rate of spreading the disease to others.

There are no simple answers to this

The situation is seemingly impossible for these people, they only have their prayers and hopes that somehow, they will get food for another day, provisions somehow for their family to somehow make it through this terrible season in our world’s history.

The UNUWIDER has issued the warning that the economic contraction caused by Covid-19 could push an additional 500 million people, or roughly 8 percent of the world’s population, into poverty, reversing 30 years of economic progress in the area of poverty.

For these nations, they not only face a health-related pandemic, but they are also forced to make themselves vulnerable face every other type of crisis as well, especially in the area of food. When the situation becomes that desperate, the vulnerability to other diseases and poverty-related issues increases as well and the snowball effect takes place. As Covid-19 cases increase worldwide, there will be a correlative rise is other deaths as well, and in the case of the already frail food infrastructures in most of these countries, most of those deaths will be from starvation.

Refugees can be hit the hardest. According to UNHRC (UN’s Refugee Org) “Over 80% of the world’s refugee population and nearly all the world’s internally displaced people are hosted in low to middle-income countries” These countries simply do not have the infrastructure needed to support a strong battle against the vicious enemy of COVID-19 and the economic scarcity that follows closely on its heels. The problems are insurmountable for the average person in these conditions.

That is why World Hunger Fund takes its job so seriously, because the need is crucial.

Along with other NWO’s, we provide the one thing that will help these people in their desperation. The assistance of food provisions from charitable organizations through the form of emergency assistance and relief brings them hope for another day without needlessly risking their lives and the lives of others.

Your donations to World Hunger Fund go straight to these nations that need it most.

Some stories from the places World Hunger Fund is bringing relief:

India – In southern India, food distributions several regions are helping local organizations that have mobilized to provide food to those in need, which include not only elderly, women, and children, but all demographics.

Uganda – In Western Uganda, we have several food distribution outreach centers to package individual portions for families to keep families fed through the critical ongoing weeks of lock down. Many tears are shed while receiving of one of our packages because it means their family can have something to eat for another week or two.

Philippines – In Philippines, small villages are hit the worst and we have several outreach teams bringing food packages and hope to the many who are in need.

Honduras – In central Honduras, we have food distribution programs for many small mountain villages that are completely shut down and in dire need of assistance.

Israel-Palestine – our program is for school children in the Palestine area, to bring assistance in time of need during the pandemic.

Our goals are so big, but we are limited by our budget. Many other nations are on the Horizon, will you help us to help them?

If you would like to help World Hunger Fund's COVID 19 efforts, go to our donate page. Thank you!


To learn more about how hunger affects our World, visit our stats page

More Stats on Hunger



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