Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Development in Arab world masks high food insecurity

Katie Nguyen in AlertNet: It's already a year since rising food prices helped ignite protests that gave us our biggest news story in 2011 - the Arab Spring. Popular anger over high food prices fuelled resentment that was already there; resentment about the inequalities between rich and poor, the widespread corruption and oppression in the region - fostered by its ageing, autocratic rulers.

Food security in the Arab world is once again in the spotlight this week as Beirut hosts a conference, bringing together leading thinkers in fields relating to food security - economics, agriculture, trade, water, health and nutrition. "Given the development level and the income level in the Arab world in general, food insecurity is much higher than in the rest of the world," economist Clemens Breisinger tells me.

Using new, diverse sources of data, his International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) report shows that ensuring food security - the availability of food and people's access to it - is particularly difficult in the Arab region (which in the report encompasses Arab League members Turkey and Iran).

It says poverty and income inequality rates in the region are higher than officials numbers have suggested. Breisinger cites the Arab world's dependency on food imports as a reason why it is especially vulnerable to global price volatility....

Middle East map created by TownDown, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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