CARICOM and WFP survey indicates growing food insecurity in the Caribbean

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The number of people facing moderate to severe levels of food insecurity in the English-speaking Caribbean is estimated to have increased by 46% over the past six months.

Nearly 4.1 million people, or 57 percent of the population, now face food insecurity, according to a recent survey conducted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) .

While severe food insecurity in the region remained largely unchanged, compared to February 2022, there was a significant increase in the number of households that fell into moderate levels of food insecurity.

Overall, the number of food insecure people has increased by 1.3 million over the past six months. The deterioration has been attributed to rising costs of food and other basic commodities, as the ripple effect of conflict in Ukraine and a slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is felt across the country. Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Nearly 6% of people in the English-speaking Caribbean said they had gone an entire day without eating in the week before the survey, representing a 1% increase since February 2022.

Another 36% of respondents skipped meals or ate less than usual, and 32% ate fewer favorite foods in the week prior to the survey.

In February, these figures were 30% and 25% respectively.

“We are seeing worrying trends in the region with people selling their assets and using their savings to meet basic needs. This was unheard of in the region before,” said Regis Chapman, Representative and Country Director of the WFP Caribbean Cluster Office.

“These negative coping strategies are not sustainable, and we are concerned that these short-term measures could lead to a further increase in the number of people unable to meet their daily food needs”

The Caribbean region continues to be affected by external factors that threaten people’s livelihoods and ability to meet their basic needs.

On average, food inflation in the English-speaking and Dutch-speaking Caribbean increased by 10.2% in 20 countries in March 2022. High energy prices are exacerbating the food price crisis.

Ninety-seven percent of respondents said they had seen food prices rise, up from 59% in April 2020.

“For the first time in more than two years, people’s inability to meet their food and basic needs was the top concern, followed by unemployment,” said Joseph Cox, Under Secretary General for Economic Integration, Innovation and Development at the CARICOM Secretariat.

“CARICOM recognizes that additional support is needed to reduce the level of need in the region and put in place systems that facilitate access to nutritious food for all. Leaders in the region are actively working with policy makers from all relevant sectors to identify solutions to increase food production and reduce import dependency in the region to reduce the cost of food.

The most recent survey results and an interactive dashboard are available to perform a comprehensive comparison of data from the five survey rounds and the different countries covered.

The dashboard now contains additional information specifically on the impact of economic conditions on the agriculture and fisheries sectors, as well as on livelihoods, markets and food security.

CARICOM, WFP and other partners continue to work together to increase people’s resilience to shocks through more effective, sustainable and responsive disaster management, social protection and food systems to meet people’s needs. most affected by the crises.

Social protection programs and other government assistance have been scaled up across the Caribbean, helping to offset the effects of the crisis. Investments in agriculture aim to reduce dependence on imports.

The survey was made possible with support from the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance.

THE SOURCE: CARICOM Today/SLT. Main photo: image from the Castries vendors image bank

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Michael M. Tomlin