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Diogo Miguel Salgado Baptista, Mrs. Mai Farid, Dominique Fayad, Laurent Kemoe, Loic S Lanci, Ms. Pritha Mitra, Tara S Muehlschlegel, Cedric Okou, John A Spray, Kevin Tuitoek, and Ms. Filiz D Unsal
Climate change is intensifying food insecurity across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) with lasting adverse macroeconomic effects, especially on economic growth and poverty. Successive shocks from the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 pandemic have increased food prices and depressed incomes, raising the number of people suffering from high malnutrition and unable to meet basic food consumption needs by at least 30 percent to 123 million in 2022 or 12 percent of SSA’s population. Addressing the lack of resilience to climate change—that critically underlies food insecurity in SSA—will require careful policy prioritization against a backdrop of financing and capacity constraints. This paper presents some key considerations and examples of tradeoffs and complementarities across policies to address food insecurity. Key findings include (1) Fiscal policies focused on social assistance and efficient public infrastructure investment can improve poorer households’ access to affordable food, facilitate expansion of climate-resilient and green agricultural production, and support quicker recovery from adverse climate events; (2) Improving access to finance is key to stepping up private investment in agricultural resilience and productivity as well as improving the earning capacity and food purchasing power of poorer rural and urban households; and (3) Greater regional trade integration, complemented with resilient transport infrastructure, enables sales of one country’s bumper harvests to its neighbors’ facing shortages. The international community can help with financial assistance—especially for the above-mentioned social assistance and key infrastructure areas—capacity development, and facilitating transfers of technology and know-how.
Cedric Okou, John A Spray, and Ms. Filiz D Unsal
This paper analyzes the domestic and external drivers of local staple food prices in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using data on domestic market prices of the five most consumed staple foods from 15 countries, this paper finds that external factors drive food price inflation, but domestic factors can mitigate these vulnerabilities. On the external side, our estimations show that Sub-Saharan African countries are highly vulnerable to global food prices, with the pass-through from global to local food prices estimated close to unity for highly imported staples. On the domestic side, staple food price inflation is lower in countries with greater local production and among products with lower consumption shares. Additionally, adverse shocks such as natural disasters and wars bring 1.8 and 4 percent staple food price surges respectively beyond generalized price increases. Economic policy can lower food price inflation, as the strength of monetary policy and fiscal frameworks, the overall economic environment, and transport constraints in geographically challenged areas account for substantial cross-country differences in staple food prices.