May 26, 2022 News
…FAO report says local food insecurity surpasses regional average
Kaieteur News – The Caribbean COVID-19 Food Security and Livelihoods Impact Survey which was launched by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to rapidly gather data on impacts to livelihoods, food security and access to markets has shown that Guyanese are adopting negative measures to cope with the ongoing difficulties associated with accessing food.
The survey was implemented by the World Food Programme with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and four rounds of the survey have been completed since the beginning of the pandemic. It was reported that findings during the February 2022 survey highlighted that citizens are adopting negative coping strategies to make ends meet. “More people are skipping meals and eating less preferred foods compared to April 2020.” Lowest income households, it was said, were most likely to resort to negative coping strategies, with 94 percent reporting to have depleted savings, 64 percent reduced spending on other essential needs, and 52 percent sold their productive assets.
“Food insecurity has further increased since April 2020. It is estimated that 58 percent of respondents from Guyana are moderately or severely food insecure which is higher than the regional average,” the survey found. The lowest income households have the highest severe food insecurity rates. While 58 percent of respondents continue to be worried about getting COVID-19, another 35 percent of citizens are also increasingly worried about meeting their food and other essential needs.
As the pandemic continues to impact people’s livelihoods, two-thirds of the respondents faced a disruption to their incomes, which is lower than in the April 2020 survey, but higher than the Caribbean average. Negative impacts on income remain widespread, with 56 percent of respondents reporting that their household has experienced job loss or reduced income since the start of the pandemic, which is a higher share compared to April 2020, of 38 percent.
The survey noted that respondents reported the inability to afford livelihood inputs as the main factor for disruption to their livelihood activities, followed by concerns about leaving the house. Over two-thirds of respondents predict at least moderate impacts to their livelihoods related to the pandemic in the future.
Food prices are also increasing, with almost all respondents, some 98 percent, reporting higher than usual food prices, an observation that is more widespread compared to June 2020, and higher than the regional average. “This is further compounded by the majority of respondents, 82 percent, who reported difficulty in accessing markets primarily due to lack of financial means. This is influencing a shift in shopping behaviour, particularly among low-income households who are increasingly buying in smaller quantities and cheaper and less preferred foods than usual.”
The Ukraine crisis, which began after the survey, was anticipated, at the time to further drive prices up. So far, international reports have stated that food prices rose its highest last month. Basic commodities such as cereals and cooking oil have reached an all time high, costing a third more of what is was last year. The CARICOM/WFP report showed that women are most often responsible for unpaid care work and that the level of unpaid care undertaken by households continues to increase when compared with June of 2020. “The results show that more women are responsible for domestic work and childcare when compared to men. Caregivers are therefore challenged with the balance of these duties and the pursuit of livelihoods.” Differences in impacts are most pronounced when comparing income groups. Households classifying their incomes as below and well below average show the poorest results on all key metrics of well-being.
Additionally, the survey pointed out that people are receiving support in response to the pandemic. Nearly half, 44 percent, of respondents have received some form of government support, which is considerably higher compared to the regional average of 22 percent. The Caribbean Community has conducted the necessary impact surveys in other regional nations.
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