Alongside most Americans, you’ve probably watched and worried as the price of staple foods and gasoline hit record highs. From costs that creep a bit higher each month, to surprising price jumps or shortages, you’ve seen the unpredictable ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.
In communities around the world teetering on the edge of poverty, these price fluctuations – created not only by the war in Ukraine, but from a host of factors – are creating a perfect storm of conditions that threaten to drive families deeper into hunger and suffering.
As Ukraine war continues, food prices skyrocket
The effects of the Ukraine war are rippling across the globe, particularly in places where the country’s surplus wheat provided an essential safety net. In Yemen, a deeply impoverished country already reeling from civil war, the price of wheat flour and cooking oil have doubled since last fall. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, not only is the price of bread two-thirds higher, but "the size of the bread has decreased," says Jean Rostand Kisungu, nutrition coordinator with fellow Corus organization, IMA World Health.
In areas of Peru where children suffer from anemia and need iron-rich food, the cost of chicken and eggs has gone up 50% since last year. "In urban areas where all food is purchased from stores or markets, the effect is more felt," says Irene Flores, director of an LWR-supported child nutrition program in Peru. As a result, many more families are relying on soup kitchens to meet their families' nutritional needs.
The looming threat of hunger
Families who grow their own food have some protection compared to city residents, but even they are not immune to effects of rising costs. Farmers in the west African country of Burkina Faso are facing fertilizer prices that have doubled. "This will have a significant impact on the next crop," warns Kouka Zoungrana, country director for LWR Burkina Faso. "In addition to the high price, fertilizer stocks are depleted in the market."
Without sufficient fertilizer, farmers won't have crop yields high enough to earn good incomes and continue to feed their families. It can take years to recover from just one bad growing season.