The Environmental Food Crisis
pose export restrictions, while some key importers bought cereal to ensure adequate domestic food supply (Brahmb- hatt and Christiaensen, 2008). This resulted in a nervous situation on the stock markets, speculation and further price increases. The impacts of reduced food availability, higher food pric- es and thus lower access to food by many people have been dramatic. It is estimated that in 2008 at least 110 million people have been driven into poverty and 44 mil- lion more became undernourished (World Bank, 2008). Over 120 million more people became impoverished in the past 2–3 years.
The major impact, however, has been on already impoverished people – they became even poorer (Wodon et al ., 2008; World Bank, 2008). Rising prices directly threaten the health or even the lives of households spending 50–90% of their income on food. This has dire consequences for survival of young children, health, nutrition and subsequently productivity and ability to attend school. In fact, the cur- rent food crisis could lead to an elevation of the mortality rate of in- fant and children under five years old by as much as 5–25% in several countries (World Bank, 2008). The food situation is critical for peo- ple already starving, for children under two years old and pregnant or nursing women (Wodon et al ., 2008), and is even worse in many Af- rican countries. Although prices have fallen between mid-2008 and early 2009, these impacts will grow if the crisis continues.
400 Food prices (index)
Crude oil price (index)
Index reference: 100=1998-2000
Figure 3: Changes in commodity prices in relation to oil prices. (Source: FAO, 2008; IMF, 2008).
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