Food is the ultimate security new map shows

A new map of food security risk around the world is, in some ways, depressingly familiar.

Sub-saharan Africa leaps out as the place where the most people fear for their next meal, while the rich world has more to fear from obesity.

But there’s plenty of salutary reminders and fascinating detail, like India’s food problems and the vulnerability of Spain.

And it demonstrates the sickening, symbiotic relationship between lack of food and conflict: where one leads, the other follows.

We must start with the worst, in the horn of Africa.

In Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, human failings mean a severe drought has tipped millions into famine. It’s a textbook case of why things go wrong.

  • War begets poverty, leaving food unaffordable.
  • Devastated infrastructure destroys both food production and the ability to truck in emergency food.
  • The collapse of society means the effects of extreme weather such as drought cannot be dealt with. And
  • the fear of violence turns people into refugees, leaving their livelihoods and social networks behind.

The recent spike in food prices, linked by some to the uprisings across north Africa and the Middle East, had also hit hard in Somalia. Maize prices in Mogadishu were 100% higher in June 2011 than in June 2010, and the price of sorghum in Somalia rose by 180% compared with 2010 prices.

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