‘I have nothing left’ to lose, says a man in India’s first-ever ‘food emergency’
“I can’t think about food for days,” says a woman in Mumbai’s affluent suburb of Patna.
“The only thing I can think about is my life.”
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, says she has been struggling to find food for her husband for weeks.
“I don’t know how to cook anything, I’m a single mother,” she says.
“What can I do?”
For months, she has sought a meal with her husband from the streets and the street vendors of the city.
But, her husband cannot afford it.
“Every night, I wake up with nothing,” she explains.
“My husband cannot cook anything.
He’s only making me sit in the dark for hours.”
A local grocery store has been helping her for two months.
“We are selling the food we have,” she tells me.
“A lot of people are desperate.
They need to be able to survive, but they cannot.”
This is not the first time this is happening in India.
A report from Human Rights Watch last year found that food insecurity and poverty are prevalent in the country, particularly in rural areas, and that nearly a third of the population is food insecure.
India has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the world, with more than 40 percent of the country living on less than $1.25 per day.
“We are witnessing a crisis that is growing with each passing day,” said Karan Johar, director of global food policy at the World Resources Institute.
“It is not just food insecurity, but also a severe lack of access to food.”
Johar added that the “disease of food scarcity” is likely to become more acute in the coming years.
“India’s current food crisis is not over yet.
It is not as acute as we might have thought.
It will get worse,” he said.
“In the next two to three years, it could become a much bigger crisis.”
Johan added that, as food insecurity continues to grow, the “food-safety and health risks that we are facing will increase.”
India is one of only three countries in the region that still do not have a functioning national system of food distribution, according to the World Bank.
The country is also home to the world’s second largest population of undernourished people, according the United Nations.
“In India, the food insecurity crisis has intensified,” Johar told the BBC.
“This is an unprecedented situation and we need to do everything possible to make the country resilient.”