Sharp rise in food insecurity in the Caribbean, survey finds
BRIDGETOWN – An estimated 2.8 million people or nearly 40 percent of the population in the English-speaking Caribbean is food insecure, 1 million more than in April 2020, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Severe food insecurity continues to increase in the region with the current figure 72 percent higher when compared to April 2020. Highlighting the lasting impact of the pandemic, two years in, the results demonstrate deteriorating food consumption and diets with 25 percent of respondents eating less preferred foods, 30 percent skipping meals or eating less than usual and 5 percent going an entire day without eating in the week leading up to the survey.
“Having the opportunity to assess how the pandemic has impacted the livelihoods and food security of more than 20,000 respondents across the past two years has provided the CARICOM Secretariat with invaluable data that is being used to inform regional priorities in the short and medium term,” said Shaun Baugh, Agriculture and Agro-Industrial Development Programme Manager at the CARICOM Secretariat.
High food prices continue to affect people’s ability to afford a nutritious diet with 93 percent of respondents reporting higher prices for food compared to 59 percent in April 2020. The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is expected to create an even deeper impact on the cost of basic goods and services in the Caribbean.
“An import dependent region, the Caribbean continues to feel the socio-economic strain of COVID-19 which is now being compounded by the conflict in Ukraine. With most COVID-19 assistance programmes having concluded, many families are expected to face an even greater challenge to meet their basic food and other essential needs in the months to come,” said Regis Chapman, WFP Representative and Country Director for the Caribbean Multi-Country Office.
“In the short to medium term, it is increasing pressure on governments to identify solutions to ensure families can meet their essential needs. Innovation in agri-food systems and regional supply chains, coupled with continued support to the most vulnerable households, will be essential to improving the resilience of regional food systems so that prices can be kept as stable as possible.”
Along with the latest survey results, an interactive dashboard allows for comparison between different survey rounds and across several countries. It also provides data on the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods, access to markets and food security by country in the Caribbean.
CARICOM, WFP and other partners continue to work together to increase resilience to shocks through stronger disaster management, social protection and food systems that are more effective, sustainable and responsive in meeting the needs of those most affected by crises.
The survey was supported by the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is a grouping of 20 countries: 15 Member States and five Associate Members, with the aims of promoting economic integration and cooperation in foreign policy, human and social development and security. Caribbean economic integration, and cooperation amongst its members, including in foreign policy.