Global Policy Forum

Living on a Spike

Poor people in developing countries now spend up to 80% of their household income on food. In order to see how the food crisis of 2011 is affecting poor people, researchers from Oxfam and the Institute of Development Studies travelled to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Zambia to meet with members of eight communities that they previously visited in 2009 and 2010. The study found the 2011 food price spike impacted communities unevenly and was more varied than the food spike in 2008. The overall pattern this year is one of ‘weak losers,’ people already struggling in low-paid, informal sector jobs, and ‘strong winners,’ people whose work has benefited from the global recovery who are not feeling the price spike as strongly as in past years. Research shows that people are responding to food insecurity in more nuanced ways than in past years; specifically, as they pinpoint political alienation as the primal force behind food price instability.

By Naomi Hossaid and Duncan Green

June 2011

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