Food Security and Nutrition in the Southern Basin of the Mediterranean Region:Linking Problems at the Household Level to Policy Actions Food Secure Arab World Conference February 6-7, 2012 Beirut, Lebanon Mohamed Y. Aw-Dahir, Regional Food Security Officer, FAO RNE René Verduijn Ed; International Consultant
Presentation outline Caveats/disclaimers Methodology and approach Food security Situation in the sub region: An overview Case studies Summary and conclusions Some policy options Observations for Way forward
Caveats/disclaimers Inconclusive analysis—only three case studies and many parts of the sub region not covered A-political in focus No speculation on impact of Arab spring or likely impact on next 1-2 years Publication date - end of Feb
Methodology and Approach A technical paper written by a team of experts from FAO, WFP, and UNDP with comments and input from WHO, UNOCHA, UNICEF, and AOAD. An international consultant was responsible for the overall editing and process facilitation. Focus: review of the socio-economic status of households in countries bordering the southern basin of the Mediterranean (Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, oPt, Syria, Tunisia) plus Jordan.
Methodology and Approach Cont.. Review of existing literature Focus on the evolving trends, underlying structural problems, challenges, opportunities, etc. Use of case studies to draw out recent experiences/ household level problems in FSN
Food Security Situation in the Sub Region: A Context Some of the structural issues: Food deficit, high unemployment, high income growth but disparity, higher population growth rate, increased urbanization, dwindling natural resource(water and land) etc. New and emerging challenges: Impact of Climate Change, political and social unrests, cross border population movement, slow down of economic activities (tourism and associated service sectors),food inflation, increased cost of subsidies etc
Food Security Situation in the Sub Region: A Context cont.. Share a vulnerability context that includes a fragile and overexploited natural resource base. The per capita renewable water resources has fallen by more than 70 percent since 1950, with a further 40 decrease expected from present levels by 2050. Poverty levels are still high with about 20 percent of people living below US $2 equivalent a day. Large segment of the population is subject to falling back into poverty as they earn only marginally more than the US$2.
Estimated wheat imports and domesticutilization in 2010/11pt..
Global food prices and local measures For most of the countries, the hike of international food prices has not translated into high domestic prices due to Government interventions aimed at maintaining subsidies on basic food items. But the budgetary impact in 2010 of the “compensation system” for wheat importers introduced by Morocco and the increase in welfare spending in Tunisia and Algeria was about 4 percent, 5 percent and 3.5 percent of the GDP of these countries respectively
Case Study 1: oPt Case study Used the resilience framework which looks at the root causes of household food insecurity and vulnerability instead of trying to predict how well households will cope with future crises or disasters. The resilience framework measures the ability of a household to keep within a certain level of well- being (e.g. food security) withstanding stresses and shocks, depends on: i) the options available to the household to make a living and, ii) its ability to manage risks.
oPt Case study cont.. Data source: a Socio-Economic and Food Security Survey (oPt) – PCBS, FAO and WFP.Conclusion If interventions are designed in ways that increase resilience by tackling the root causes of food insecurity, specifically, access to diversified and stable income sources, better access to public services and assets, the need for such emergencies interventions will diminish.
Case Study 2: Egypt Data source: HHIES (2005)+ time series on food prices.Conclusion The increase in the price of cereals is not necessarily a relevant indicator to assess the impact of soaring food prices. Given the stability of the price of subsidized bread since 1989, the increase in the prices of other food products has more effect on food consumption. The increase in consumer food prices in the local market is far from being a simple transmission of the increases in international food prices
Case study 3: Tunisia Data source: FAO and WFP Emergency Food Security Assessment, conducted in Tunisia mid-2011.Conclusion Kasserine (Centre Region), has the highest prevalence of food insecure households. Households have developed two distinct types of coping strategies as a response to food insecurity, namely smoothing consumption by switching to cheaper foodstuffs, decreasing the number/size of meals, etc; and by smoothing assets, i.e. consuming stocks of seeds, sale of household/productive equipment and livestock.
Tunisia cont… The challenge in ahead is to ensure that economic growth is high enough to meet the popular demand for more jobs and higher standard of living; in the interim, an increase of social benefits and subsidies on basic food items may be needed to ease the situation of the unemployed. In the long term however, fundamental changes will be necessary with targeted policy responses to the manifold challenges.
Summary and Conclusions The sub-region depends significantly on imports , while local production of fresh and nutritious foods meets a large proportion of the domestic demand. Social protection is well-established but given the current vulnerability context, is set to be of even greater importance in the future.Poverty is at the core of the food security problem in the sub-region. The poor spend anywhere from 35 to 65 percent of their income on food.
Summary and Conclusions cont.. Food security is predominantly an access issue in the sub- region. Unemployment rates are high; despite high levels of urbanization the service industry is lagging behind, and many people depend on informal jobs. The potential of the rural and off-farm economy is not fully exploited as an engine of growth. The negative sentiments in the global economy and uncertainty of the local socio-political environment will have impact on the sub-region’s investment climate.
Summary and Conclusions cont.. Over the past fifteen years, the sub-region has made significant progress in reducing infant and child mortality but have achieved less homogeneous results in addressing child malnutrition. hidden hunger is prevalent in the countries of the sub region especially for nutrients including Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D etc.
Some policy options Producer related measuresNatural Resource Management: Adapting to Climate ChangeEfficiency/water ManagementResearch and educationMitigation of food price volatilityEarly Warning (price monitoring)Reform social safety net programs
Observations for way forward Importance of linkages/ integrated approaches/ lack of regional integration.Large potential for governments, including private sector?Will the Arab Spring provide a new chance to make governments accountable to their citizens?So what’s stopping us?