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Role of income inequality in shaping outcomes on individual food insecurity

Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019












This paper was prepared as background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019


Holleman, C. & Conti, V. 2020. Role of income inequality in shaping outcomes on individual food insecurity. Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Paper 19-06. Rome, FAO.




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    Modern supply chains – comprising the production and trade of high-value produce, such as horticulture products, destined for high-income markets – are expanding rapidly across developing regions. While there is consensus that the emergence and spread of modern food supply chains is profoundly changing the way food is produced and traded in developing countries, there is still debate on the welfare implications. In this debate the gender effects of high-value agri-food trade and modernization of supply chains remain an almost unexplored issue. In this paper we examine the gender implications in modern horticulture supply chains with a main focus on Africa. We conceptualize the various mechanisms through which women are directly affected by the emergence of modern supply chains, we review existing empirical evidence and add new survey-based quantitative evidence from two studies of high-value horticulture supply chains in Senegal. Our results suggest that the growth of modern horticultu re supply chains has been associated with direct beneficial effects for rural women and reduced gender inequalities in rural areas. We find that that women benefit more and more directly from large-scale estate production and agro-industrial processing, and the creation of employment in these modern agro-industries than from high-value smallholder contract-farming. In addition, we identify several additional unresolved issues where conclusive empirical evidence is still lacking, or where complex causal links of direct and indirect effects are not completely understood yet.
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    A review of studies examining the link between food insecurity and malnutrition 2018
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    A review of 120 studies published since 2006 was undertaken to examine the relationship between food insecurity at the household or individual level and the following nutrition indicators: child stunting, child wasting, low birth weight, exclusive breastfeeding of infants < 6 months of age, anaemia in women of reproductive age, child overweight and adult obesity. While there is some evidence of a direct association between food insecurity and stunting for children in lower-middle and upper-middle income countries, evidence of links between food insecurity and either child wasting or overweight is almost absent, with the exception of an association with overweight among girls in middle- and high-income countries. The obesity–food insecurity link is most predominant among women in high-income countries, while it is almost absent in men. In addition, food insecurity increases the risk for low birth weight in infants and anaemia in women. Methodological concerns that pose challenges for valid comparison of results relate to study design, data analysis techniques, use of different indicators of household/individual food security and malnutrition, and the limited availability of high-quality micro-level data from large-scale surveys. Most studies report correlation rather than causal associations between food insecurity and nutrition indicators; longitudinal micro-level data from large-scale surveys can help establish causal association and capture the dynamic nature of food insecurity. Food insecurity emerges as a predictor of undernutrition as well as overweight and obesity, highlighting the need for multisectoral strategies and policies to combat food insecurity and multiple forms of malnutrition.
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    The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012
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    The 2012 edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the World focuses on the importance of economic growth in overcoming poverty, hunger and malnutrition. We are pleased to note that many, though not all, developing countries have enjoyed remarkable rates of growth during recent decades. High growth rates of GDP per capita are a key factor in reducing food insecurity and malnutrition. However, economic growth per se does not guarantee success. As Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen stated recently, it "r equires active public policies to ensure that the fruits of economic growth are widely shared, and also requires - and this is very important - making good use of the public revenue generated by fast economic growth for social services, especially for public healthcare and public education."� This report provides convincing evidence that poor, hungry and malnourished people use some of their additional income either to produce or purchase more food, aiming to increase their dietary ener gy intake and to diversify their diets. Against this background, we are glad to note significant improvements in food security and nutrition outcomes worldwide. The trend in the prevalence of undernourishment has been declining, and we have seen some progress in key anthropometric indicators of child underweight, stunting and nutrition-related child mortality. There has also been progress in overcoming some types of micronutrient deficiencies or 'hidden hunger'� in a number of countries. These e ncouraging developments are made possible by the combined effects of increased attention to world hunger, overall economic and agricultural growth, and targeted policy interventions.

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