Food security and nutritional status worsening in Egypt: Report

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More than 40 percent of the average household's expenditure goes towards food while the poorest families spend more than half their budgets on food. Copyright: WFP/Marco Frattini

Poverty and food insecurity in Egypt have risen significantly over the last three years, according to joint reports released Tuesday by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the government's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

A report by WFP and CAPMAS found that an estimated 13.7 million Egyptians (or 17 percent of the population) suffered from food insecurity in 2011, compared to 14 percent in 2009.

Food security exists when all people, at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their basic dietary needs. Data shows that between 2009 and 2011, some 15 percent of the population moved into poverty, twice the number who moved out of poverty. Data also suggests that rates of malnutrition, most notably stunting among children aged 6-59 months, are also on the rise.

WFP's Egypt Representative and Country Director GianPietro Bordignon.says "This increase in food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty rates has not happened overnight, during this year or even during the past year", adding that "People's inability to have adequate and nutritious food is largely attributed to rising poverty rates and a succession of crises from 2005 — including the avian influenza epidemic in 2006, the food, fuel and financial crises of 2007–09 and a challenging macroeconomic context in recent years".

Pockets of poverty and food insecurity have emerged in urban areas, where poverty increased by nearly 40 percent. The average Egyptian household spends 40.6 percent of its expenditure on food, rising to more than half for the poorest, who are therefore even more vulnerable to food price fluctuations.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’44″

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