Ethiopia: Food prices squeezing poor people and driving social change by stealth

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food(Relief Web) — A new era of high and volatile food prices go beyond affecting what people can afford to eat and are causing life-changing shifts in society, experts warn today.

The report, Squeezed*, reveals a global snap-shot of how the failure of wages to keep pace with five years of food price rises is putting a strain on families, communities and society, including increased levels of domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse. Roles and social needs are changing as women who once remained at home are entering the job market and agricultural jobs are being abandoned for more lucrative jobs in an attempt to afford higher food prices.


The research is from international development agency Oxfam and research charity the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and is the first of four annual reports which will assess the wider implications of high food prices and volatility in 23 urban and rural communities in ten countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Oxfam’s policy researcher Richard King said: “Poor people across the globe are feeling the strain in this era of high and volatile food prices – from the nurses in Zambia who are forced to moonlight as street vendors to make ends meet to low-income households in the UK who are borrowing money, dipping into savings or turning to food banks to have enough to eat.

“The implications of high and volatile food prices go way beyond the dinner table and are driving social change that must be better understood and addressed if communities are going to survive intact.”

ethiopia FoodResearch findings include: · Food safety is a growing concern as families are forced to turn to cheaper, poor quality and sometimes contaminated food to stretch the budget. · Increased migration as people leave rural homes for the city or other countries for more economic opportunities. In Ethiopia, food prices were blamed for people moving to the Middle East, abroad. · Heightened family tensions are revealed in increased incidences of domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse as men struggle to fulfil their traditional role as the ‘breadwinner’. · Unpredictable profits and higher costs mean a new generation of farmers are turning to riskier occupations, including gold mining in Burkina Faso and jungle fishing in Bangladesh. · Community life is breaking down as families cut back on important community events such as weddings and funerals in an effort to save money. · With the squeeze on family budgets women are entering the waged workforce in ever greater numbers and grandparents and older daughters are forced to step in to help with childcare · Families also report skipping meals, foraging or growing their own food, or turning to hunger recipes such as ‘pantabhat’ (a watery fermented rice dish) in Bangladesh.

The report shows the human cost of high and volatile food prices in a world where one in eight people around the world already go to bed hungry. Oxfam is a member if the 180-member Enough Food For Everyone If coalition, which is calling on G8 leaders meeting next month in Northern Ireland to take action to tackle global hunger.

The ground-breaking research comes in a new era of high and volatile food prices since the global food crisis in 2008. Food prices remain at extremely high and volatile and it is the world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80 per cent of their incomes on food, who are hardest hit.

Naomi Hossain, IDS research fellow, said: “As families increasingly struggle to earn enough to eat we are seeing how money is becoming more important than relationships, to the point that the social implications are potentially alarming. Policy-makers need to catch up.”

Recommendations include improved social protection policies to address the vulnerability of the poorest, including cash transfers or subsidies. Improved management of food reserves and regulation of the international grain trade is also needed, while steps to make agriculture a more credible vocation by investing in training, technology and sustainability should also be taken. Recognition of the need to design and support a growing number of child-carers, particularly grandparents and older daughters, whose health and education may suffer, is also needed.

Over 1.1 mln. needy farmers ensure food security
Hawassa May 18/2013 More than 1.1 million needy farmers embraced in food security program in Amhara State have ensured food security, the regional disaster prevention and food security program coordination office said. Office Head, Sileshi Temesgen said at a relevant discussion forum held in Bahirdar Town of the State on Friday that the beneficiaries have managed to produce surplus. Sileshi said the farmers are engaged in soil and water conservation, road construction, irrigation development, animal husbandry and fattening, among others. Such efforts significantly contribute in the ongoing efforts to reduce poverty, he said. Over 1.5 billion Birr and grain is allocated to ensure food security of over 1.8 million households in 64 woredas of the region in the current Ethiopian budget year.

Source Relief Web

1 Comment

  1. I hope the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation don’t wipe out all insects while battling mosquitoes and malaria, because according to the United Nations new research findings eating bugs could ‘fix food shortages’

    The UN’s food agency says eating insects could address food security problems .

    If you’re a meatlover, you should try chomping down on some delicious insects, according the United Nations (UN).

    In a bid to fix the world’s food shortages, a UN report says insects are a valuable source of protein and could be the answer to global food scarcities.

    Scientists are urging Western societies to ‘get over seeing insects as the enemy’ and to try eating these edible wrigglies, as more than 1,900 species are eaten around the world.

    Entomologist Alan Yen works with Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries and was involved in the research.

    ‘Insects are an alternative and additional form of protein for people, and also as an animal food,’ he said.

    ‘The main message is really: ‘Eat insects’,’ Eva Mueller, director of forest economics at the FAO, told a press conference in Rome on Monday.

    ‘Two billion people – a third of the world’s population – are already eating insects because they are delicious and nutritious,’ said Mueller.

    The report suggested that the food industry in Western countries could help in ‘raising the status of insects’ by including them in recipes and putting them on restaurant menus.

    The report also said the insects most commonly consumed by humans are beetles (31 per cent), caterpillars (18 per cent) and bees, wasps and ants (14 per cent), followed by grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 per cent).

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