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Putting the 2007/2008 global food crisis in longer-term perspective: Trends in staple food affordability in urban Zambia and Kenya

Nicole Mason, Thomas Jayne (), Antony Chapoto () and Cynthia Donovan ()

Food Policy, 2011, vol. 36, issue 3, 350-367

Abstract: Staple food prices in cities in eastern and southern Africa rose sharply between late 2007 and early 2009, leading to estimates of massive increases in food insecurity and hunger. However, in assessing the impacts of soaring food prices on urban consumers' access to food it is important to consider food price changes relative to changes in per capita incomes. In this study, we use the case studies of Zambia and Kenya, where data are available on food prices, wage rates, incomes, and other indicators of urban purchasing power to answer two main questions: (i) how did staple food purchasing power at the height of the food price crisis compare to levels over the last 15Â years? and (ii) did the food price crisis exacerbate an already declining trend in staple food purchasing power, or did it reverse a trend of stable or improving staple food affordability? Results indicate that staple food purchasing power in urban Zambia and Kenya improved markedly in the 10-12Â years prior to the food price crisis. Most measures of bread and maize meal affordability at the start of the crisis in 2007 were at levels 1.0-4.3 times higher than in the mid-1990s. These gains for urban consumers were slashed but not completely reversed during the food crisis. Between 2007 and 2009, maize meal and bread were still more affordable in urban Zambia than all periods between 1994 and 2003. In urban Kenya, staple food purchasing power as of 2008/2009 was comparable to levels in 2000/2001-2004/2005 according to some indicators, while other measures suggest that the food price crisis reduced staple food purchasing power to levels lower than any other year in the period 1994/1995-2007/2008.

Keywords: Food; price; crisis; Purchasing; power; Urban; consumers; Kenya; Zambia; Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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