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‘Squeezed’: How are Poor People Adjusting to Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility?

Duncan Green's picture

Ace IDS researcher Naomi Hossain introduces the first results of a big Oxfam/IDS research project on food price volatility

If the point of development is to make the Third World more like the First, then we aid-wallahs can pack our bags and go home. Job done.

The most striking finding of Squeezed, the first year results from the four year Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility research project, is how like the people of the post-industrial North the people from the proto-industrial South now sound:

  • Stressed and tired
  • Juggling work and home
  • Surrounded by selfish individualists, led by uncaring politicians
  • In strained relationships
  • Constantly pressed for time
  • Never enough money, even for the basics.

‘Squeezed’ is how the UK has been describing its middle classes, beset by austerity and recession. But the countries in our research have high growth rates and apparently a lot of poverty reduction.

What’s Up (or Down) with Global Hunger?

Duncan Green's picture

Guest post from Oxfam Research Policy Adviser Richard King (right)

Today the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is celebrating World Food Day, and is playing host to the latest Committee on World Food Security meeting. Last week, to warm things up, the FAO, World Food Programme, and International Fund for Agricultural Development launched their joint 2012 ‘State of Food Insecurity in the World’ (SOFI) report, with the FAO’s latest estimates of global hunger. If you’re familiar with oft-cited facts such as ‘nearly one in seven people go to bed hungry’, or ‘nearly a billion people don’t have enough to eat’ reverberating around the echo chamber, they’re based on the calculations in previous editions of this publication.

The annual report has commanded a lot of interest over the past few years, partly because we’re living through a time of extraordinary food price volatility, but also because some of the FAO’s estimates of hunger (or more properly ‘undernourishment’) during the global food and economic crises have raised eyebrows. I won’t rehash here previous critiques of the recent estimates; suffice to say the shortcomings have been increasingly recognised by the FAO itself, and they’ve been beavering away behind the scenes to improve both their calculations and the data that they rely on. So it was with much anticipation that we waited to see what changes last week’s report would bring. And [fanfare!] here they are…