Food insecurity in Egypt on the rise since 2009

Ahram Online , Tuesday 21 May 2013

Poverty and malnutrition increased in Egypt between 2009-2011, with spikes expected as inflation increases

File photo: A woman and her child stand in a shack in al-Gayyara slum next to Old Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

The World Food Programme (WFP) in Egypt released a report on Tuesday showing that 17 percent of Egypt's population, an estimated 13.7 million people, suffered from food insecurity in 2011, compared to 14 percent in 2009.

According to the joint report by the World Food Programme, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CAPMAS, an Egyptian state-run statistics body, a series of shocks from 2006 including the avian influenza epidemic and the food, fuel and financial crisis of 2007-09 triggered a crisis in food security.

The result has been an increase in poverty rates and of malnutrition.

Threats of increasing inflation rates in the short term might worsen the situation, according to the report.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected inflation will reach 10.9 percent by the end of the year and climb to 11.6 percent in 2014 as the Egyptian government implements subsidy cuts.

The report also finds that the average Egyptian household spends 40.6 percent of its expenditures on food, rising to more than half for the poorest.

As food prices increase, the poorest tend to buy less expensive, thus less nutritious foods, leading to malnutrition. The report noted that stunted growth in children under five years of age had reached 31 percent in 2011, up from 23 percent in 2005.

Rural Upper Egypt continues to have the highest poverty rate, at 51.5 per cent of the population, double the national average. Greater Cairo, however, has approximately 3.5 million poor and food-insecure people.  

Short link: