Self-reported food insecurity in Africa during the food price crisis

Type Journal Article - Food Policy
Title Self-reported food insecurity in Africa during the food price crisis
Volume 39
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Page numbers 51-63
This article analyzes data on self-reported food insecurity of more than 50,000 individuals in
18 Sub-Saharan African countries over the period 2005 to 2008, when global food prices
increased dramatically. The average level of self-reported food insecurity was high but
remarkably stable, at about 54%. However, this average hides large heterogeneity, both
within countries and across countries. In eight of the sample countries, self-reported food
security improved, while it worsened in the ten other countries. Our results suggest that
heterogeneous effects in self-reported food security are consistent with economic predictions,
as they are correlated with net food consumption (both at the household and country level)
and economic growth. Specifically, self-reported food security improved on average in rural
households, while it worsened in urban households. Improvements in food security were
positively correlated with net food exports and GDP per capita growth. We estimate that over
the period 2005-2008 between 5 and 12 million people in the 18 SSA countries became more
food secure. While the self-reported indicator used in this paper requires further study and one
should carefully interpret the results, our findings suggest the need for a critical evaluation of
the currently used data in the public debate on the food price crisis, which makes mention of
hundreds of millions of additional food insecure.

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