Iraq: joint UN report finds that food insecurity decreased significantly over past five years

Photo: World Bank/Flore de Préneuf

3 December 2012 – The number of people in Iraq who face food insecurity has decreased by more than 250,000 over the past five years, according to the findings of a United Nations report, released today in conjunction with the Iraqi Government.

The Food Security, Living Conditions and Social Transfers in Iraq report, jointly conducted by the Government of Iraq and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), shows that 2.2 million Iraqis were facing food insecurity in 2007, compared to 1.9 million in 2011, representing a 7.1 per cent fall.

The report points to the Public Distribution System (PDS) as an important element that has helped to ensure food security and decent living standards for the poorest of households.

“The Public Distribution System, which was established over two decades ago to help the Iraqi population avoid widespread hunger in the aftermath of war and subsequent sanctions, continues its role as a safety net against hunger, providing crucial support to millions of poor and vulnerable Iraqis today,” said WFP’s Representative and Country Director, Edward Kallon, at the report’s launch ceremony in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The report analyses the cost effectiveness of the PDS in achieving improved food security and compares it to three possible alternatives: replacing the food basket with direct cash transfers to the poor, distributing the current food basket to those under the poverty line using electronic food vouchers, and using electronic cards to target the poor with alternative food baskets.

At the moment, the Basra governorate is the most-affected by food insecurity – with half a million food insecure people living there – followed by Baghdad, Thi Qar and Ninewa.

“The efforts made by our partners in the Government of Iraq, which are visible in the analysis and recommendations of this report, represent a solid step forward towards achieving our common goal of food security for all in Iraq,” Mr. Kallon said.


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