Food prices rise as food aid needed in Middle East and Africa

Jeremy Hance
October 04, 2012

A mother with her severely malnourished child in the Sahel region. Photo: UNICEF/Chad/2012/C Tidey
A mother with her severely malnourished child in the Sahel region. Photo: UNICEF/Chad/2012/C Tidey.

Food prices increased in September on the FAO Food Price Index after two months of stability, while food aid has been urgently called for in Yemen and Syria, and concerns lingered in parts of Africa. Food prices globally rose 3 points (or 1.4 percent) to 216 points.

Civil war in Syria has sparked a widespread food crisis there. Currently, 1.5 million people are in need of urgent food aid, though that's expected to go higher as the now seemingly entrenched conflict continues.

However, Yemen is even worse off. Conflict, in addition to high food and fuel prices have pushed 10 million people into requiring food aid there.

Two thirds of the population, around 725,000 people, of the small nation of Lesotho are also facing a local food crisis after a series of poor harvests. Surrounded entirely by South Africa, Lesotho suffers from widespread poverty and one of the highest levels in the world of HIV.

Meanwhile, famine concerns continue in the Sahel region of Africa, which lies just to the south of the Saharan Desert. A prolonged food crisis in the Sahel this year has impacted 19 million people across the region. Conflict in Mali, including nearly half a million refugees, has exasperated a region already hit hard by a series of droughts. New concerns have been raised about the possible impact of desert locusts as well.

Globally food prices are hovering just below crisis levels, according to experts. Out of the food groups, dairy jumped the highest in prices last month, moving up 12 points or 7 percent. Meat was up 4 points; cereal up 3 points. Still the overall Food Price Index remains 11 points below its record high set in February 2011.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (October 04, 2012).

Food prices rise as food aid needed in Middle East and Africa.