The Washington Post

Which countries are most vulnerable to rising food prices?

Much has been written about the effect that rising food prices have had on poverty, starvation and civil unrest around the world, but Oxfam has just compiled an interactive map about what countries could become the next Yemen without international assistance. It’s a humbling look into a (possibly) bleak future.

The map, according to Oxfam spokesman Ben Grossman-Cohen, was compiled from a number of sources, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization , the Famine Early Warning Systems Network and Oxfam’s own on-the-ground program teams. The criteria that Oxfam considered include climate changes, weather events, hunger rates, net food imports and political instability.

“These criteria are not intended or considered to be comprehensive, ” Grossman-Cohen e-mailed All We Can Eat this morning. “[T]here are many countries who face struggles with food prices who are not included. There are also countries or regions whose policies play a major role in food prices that are not included.”

And what about the United States? Do we have food insecurities that could have placed us on this internationally focused map?

“The US was considered part of the project and does have major challenges when it comes to ensuring everyone has enough to eat,” Grossman-Cohen notes. “Additionally US policies can play a role in driving price spikes, our ethanol incentives for example have been shown to drive up prices. But we do not consider the US to be comparatively vulnerable to price spikes in the way that poor nations are, so they were not included.”

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.


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