The increase in food prices and the dramatic consequences on the poor of fourteen countries of the world due to the war in Ukraine

The increase in food prices and the dramatic consequences on the poor of fourteen countries of the world due to the war in Ukraine

ROME - Almost a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the impact of the conflict caused by the rising cost of raw materials continues to intensify in some of the poorest and most vulnerable places in the world, where families are spending up to ten times what they paid 16 months ago to buy groceries and essentials. That's what it highlights ActionAid in a survey conducted on over 1,000 people, including ordinary citizens and community leaders, in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

FAO's analysis: the case of Ethiopia. The study found an impressive increase in the cost of living, despite the trend indicated in the Food Price Index published by the FAO showing a decline of 11.7% since February 2022. The increase in prices is particularly alarming in a period in which which, in the communities interviewed, incomes have decreased by almost a quarter, with peaks that in Ethiopia, in the Guna area - a mountain near the city of

Debre Tabor, in north-central Ethiopia, in the Amhara Region – reached minus 133%. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents admitted to changing their diet to low-quality foods, while more than half (59%) said people in their community got into debt.

Women and girls are most affected. "This research - says Alberta Guerra, political analyst for ActionAid and research coordinator – demonstrates how since the start of the war in Ukraine, the most vulnerable people around the world are bearing the brunt of soaring food, fuel and fertilizer prices. Women and girls are the most disproportionately affected by multiple crises impacting nutrition, education, the right to live without the risk of marrying at a very young age with serious consequences for their mental health and well-being".

For a loaf of bread you increase up to 614%. In the monitored period, the prices of pasta and fertilizers increased on average by more than 115%, the costs of petrol by 80%. Since the beginning of the war, in the local markets and in the communities of the countries examined by ActionAid, communities spend on average twice as much (101% more) on a loaf of bread (an increase of up to 614% in Binga District, Zimbabwe), sugar has increased by an average of 59% (more than 800 % in Binga District, Zimbabwe), oil 57%, gas for cooking 47%. Non-food items such as sanitary pads are also not exempt, the cost of which has risen by an average of 83%. Zimbabwe appears to be one of the countries most affected by these increases: in some districts, the population reported that petrol prices have increased by over 900%, pasta prices by up to 750%, fertilizer costs by over 700%. and pads cost over 600% more.

The case of Zimbabwe. “Food and fuel prices in Zimbabwe have risen almost daily, hitting hardest the country's many families living below the poverty line. In some areas, some families cannot afford even one meal a day because prices of groceries has spiraled completely out of control, leaving many scrambling for survival, one day at a time, not knowing where the next meal will come from,” says Joy Mabenge, director of ActionAid – Zimbabwe.

Mental disorders and child marriages. The increases noted bring with them serious consequences on local populations, especially as regards the future of women and children. Community leaders in 10 countries said rates of child marriage are on the rise in their local areas as mental health deteriorates in the hardest-hit communities: more than half of respondents said rising prices made them feel hopeless (53%), prompting concerns about the impact the crisis is having on the emotional well-being of families.

School dropout and child marriage. The economic crisis at the family level threatens the educational prospects of children. In 10 of the 14 countries studied, drop-out rates have increased for both girls and boys, while the economic pressure created by rising prices has also led to an increase in child marriage. Girls also reported dropping out of school due to the increase in teenage pregnancies.

Interviews from Bangladesh. One of the interviewees in Sunamganj district, Bangladesh, explains: "Education is much less important than earning food for survival. The boys have to work in stone quarries or sand extraction for 300 Taka (just over 2.5 euros) per day in the Jadukata River. For this reason they skip school".

ActioAid's proposals. The countries involved in the survey are dealing with the impacts of intersecting crises, such as climate disasters, the aftermath of the conflict in Ukraine, but also external debt stress and the sharp depreciation of their local currencies. ActionAid therefore calls for a comprehensive approach and adequate funding to address these interconnected crises:

1) – Social protection measures, including education services and free school meals.

2) - In the longer term, governments that depend on food imports must also invest in national and regional food reserves to act as a buffer and reduce vulnerability, food shortages and rising prices.

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