The recent food price instability has affected women and children in developing countries in profound ways. The rapid price increases have a particularly negative impact on young children, as any disruption to their nutrition tends to have serious long-term implications, both in terms of health and educational outcomes, leaving a lasting impression later in life.
Poor families and children are particulary vulnerable to crisis shocks, and an unexpected event like the food price instability can put great strain on already stretched households. The cost of inaction, even in what may constitute as difficult economic times, will be devastating, and the effects will be felt all over the world in the form of sharp increases in migration, social and political instability, losses of investment opportunities and stunted economic growth.
Existing analyses indicate that the impacts of higher food prices on poverty are likely to be very diverse, depending on the reasons for the price change and the structure of the economy. Although we don't yet know the full extent of these impacts, UNICEF is already responding. UNICEF has identified 45 countries where children were at severe risk and allocated over $50 million of our resources towards programmes to provide an immediate response to the crisis and enhance nutritional security.
UNICEF's priority actions include strengthening the evidence base for policy and programmes, including impact on vulnerable populations, advocating for the protection of children from the adverse effects of rising prices, support and scaling up of national programmes on nutrition and health, and stengthening access to education.
Ongoing work on food price instability
UNICEF WCARO article on the food price crisis.
The World Bank has a working paper on the implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries.
UNDP prepared the working paper Anatomy of the Global Food Crisis.
Innocenti working paper The Impact of the Increase in Food Prices on Child Poverty and the Policy Response in Mali.
UNDP website: Crisis, Vulnerability, and Response Monitoring