ACF's latest report calls for immediate, effective and unified response to hunger
Despite no clear increase in severe malnutrition on a global scale, ACF found that high prices had a significant and consistent impact on livelihoods and dietary diversity in all four countries because high prices decrease access to food and lead to a reduction in the diversity and quantity of diets, especially among the poor. Semi-structured interviews in Ethiopia, for example, revealed that pastoralists were selling more assets or assets of greater value to ensure enough income to purchase enough food. Selling their best sheep would previously have bought 25kg of sugar and 25kg of cereals - today they must choose between the two.
Lessons from seasonal domestic price fluctuations show that this type of household response can have long-term implications for poverty, vulnerability and malnutrition.
The report argues that it is paramount that the international response takes notice of the vulnerabilities and needs of those communities that are exposed to the debilitating effects of seasonal and global price fluctuations.
The similarity between household reactions to seasonal domestic price fluctuations and global price rises provides an opportunity to mount immediate, proven interventions provided there is sufficient and sustained political will.
The financial crisis, the cessation of local protests, riots and violence, and the decline of global food prices have led many to refocus their attention on other priorities. It would be irresponsible for national governments and the international community to assume that the global food crisis was a one-off event and to wait for the next to come.
If action is not taken now, high, fluctuating food prices will trap millions of children in a downward spiral of poverty and malnutrition.
To read the briefing paper, please click here. The full report will be available from Monday, 26 January.