In a grim warning, the World Food Programme (WFP) – which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2020 has said that 2021 will be worse than 2020. David Beasley, the head of United Nations’ agency WFP, sent out an important message to world leaders during an interview with Associated Press, saying that without billions of dollars, there will be famines of biblical proportions in 2021.

It was so timely because we’ve been fighting to get above the choir, Beasley said of last month’s award, pointing to the news being dominated by the U.S. elections and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the difficulty of getting global attention focused on the travesty that we’re facing around the world. So this was really a gift from above, Beasley said, recalling the surprise and delight of WFP’s 20,000 staffers worldwide, and his own shock at being interrupted during a meeting in Niger in Africa’s Sahel region with the news.

Beasley recalled his warning to the U.N. Security Council in April that as the world was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it was also on the brink of a hunger pandemic that could lead to multiple famines of biblical proportions within a few months if immediate action wasn’t taken. We were able to avert it in 2020 … because the world leaders responded with money, stimulus packages, deferral of debt, he said. Now, Beasley said, COVID-19 is surging again, economies are continuing to deteriorate particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and there is another wave of lockdowns and shutdowns. But he said the money that was available in 2020 isn’t going to be available in 2021, so he has been using the Nobel to meet leaders virtually and in person, talk to parliaments, and give speeches to sensitize those with power to this tragedy that we are facing crises that really are going to be extraordinary over the next, who knows, 12 to 18 months.

Beasley said WFP needs $15 billion next year, $5 billion just to avert famine and $10 billion to carry out the agency’s global programs including for malnourished children and school lunches which are often the only meal youngsters get. In addition to raising extra money from governments, Beasley said, his other “great hope” is that billionaires that have made billions during the Covid-19 pandemic will step up on a one-time basis. He plans to start pushing this message probably in December or January.