Billionaires whose wealth has soared during the coronavirus pandemic should provide emergency aid to the record numbers of people facing starvation, according to Barron Segar, the president and chief executive of the World Food Program USA.
The pandemic and ensuing economic crisis have contributed to a sharp rise in the number of people on the brink of starvation around the world. The WFP, the UN agency that provides emergency relief, was needed by 138 million people last year, up from about 100 million in 2019. That figure is expected to increase again this year, to about 235 million people “marching toward starvation.” The finances the WFP has available are not increasing at the same rate, and Segar estimates that the shortfall will reach about $5bn (£3.7bn) this year.
Segar said, “Without doubt, we are facing the largest humanitarian assistance programme in history.” He warned that despite the distribution of vaccines, the pandemic and economic crises were showing no signs of releasing their grip on the world. “Things are going to get worse,” he said. “My crystal ball looks very bleak. More people will die not because of Covid, but because of the economic fallout from Covid.”
His solution he explains is “Imagine one person to stand up and say they have heard the call, they will donate $5bn. We are trying to unlock the private sector. There are more billionaires in the US than we have ever had before, and many billionaires are successful because of Covid.” Segar said he was taking the unprecedented step of asking for an individual billionaire, or small number of donors, to come forward because he could see little other prospect of filling the funding gap. “Hunger is solvable,” he said. “This can be solved with significant support from ultra high net worth individuals.”
Is this all what capitalism's supporters can do to end hunger - appeal to the philanthropic better nature of the rich and powerful.