- The World Food Programme says the current global economic down turn could reverse the gains made in a number of developing countries and also threatens to undermine progress made in the fight against hunger.
According to a study conducted in five countries including Ghana and Zambia, the world food agency said the effects of the financial crisis in developing countries has left a number of families going hungry.
WFP’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran called on governments to boost social safety-net programmes as the impact of the economic crisis on poor households begins to hit hard.
“In each of the five countries, we were alarmed that projections were for more hunger and struggling in dozens of developing world countries. It demonstrates that for those living on less than $2 a day, the financial crisis is accelerating hunger and the worst is yet to come,” the Executive Director said.
WFP food security experts reported that the majority of households are coping by reducing the number of meals eaten per day or serving up cheaper but less nutritious foods. “Some families are spending less on health care or withdrawing their children from school,” the report said.
The report said Ghana which had made significant progress in reducing poverty and its social protection system provides a safety net, could tumble down as capital inflows, remittances, and exports of pineapple and timber have fallen. However, exports of its two main commodities, cocoa and gold, have remained stable according to the study.
It further stated that food prices have remained high in most of the studied areas, further revealing evidence of a reduction in quality and quantity of food consumed. “In the most hunger-prone area, the savannah, women who collect shea nuts for use in the cosmetics industry are particularly hard hit,” it stated.
As for Zambia, food prices are exceptionally high, according to the study, with the cost of staple foods some two thirds higher than at the same time last year.
“The local currency lost a third of its value against the US$ between March 2008 and 2009 and the price of copper, the main export, has fallen sharply,” it stated, further revealing that an estimated 8 000 jobs have been lost in Copperbelt province, where some 30 000 are employed in mining.
WFP has designed an Economic Shock and Hunger Index (ESHI), which uses economic variables and food security indicators to identify which countries will be hit hardest by the financial crisis.
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