Business, Economics and Jobs

World Bank warns of more famine


A Somali boy receives a ration of cornmeal in Mogadishu, Somalia, where the World Bank says steep rises in the price of staple foods has contributed to the famine.


Roberto Schmidt

Global food prices are close to an all-time high and combined with price, climate and political volatility threaten a Horn of Africa style famine elsewhere, according to the World Bank.

The Food Price Watch report shows that global food prices are close to the record highs seen in 2008 and have exceeded those levels in some parts of the Horn of Africa where prices of staple foods have more than doubled since last year.

“Nowhere are high food prices, poverty and instability combining to produce tragic suffering more than in the Horn of Africa,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

In Somalia the World Bank said prices of red sorghum and maize, two staple foods, had increased by 240% and 154% respectively.

High, and rising, food prices, drought and conflict have combined to create a famine in southern Somalia and widespread food shortages affecting more than 12 million people across the Horn of Africa.

Looking at the gloomy global picture Zoellick warned: “Persistently high food prices and low food stocks indicate that we’re still in the danger zone, with the most vulnerable people the least able to cope.

“Vigilance is vital given the uncertainties and volatility that exists today. There is no cushion,” he said.