International Food Security Assessment, 2012-22

by Stacey Rosen, Birgit Meade, Shahla Shapouri, Anna D'Souza, and Nicholas Rada

Outlook No. (GFA-23) 71 pp, July 2012

What Is the Issue?

Government policy makers, international development organizations, and other stakeholders are concerned with the status of international food security, a concern that has increased due to the volatility in global food prices since the late 2000s. The results in this report are based on projections of two key determinants of food security: food production and import capacity of the countries. Domestic food production performance plays the most critical role in the food security of many lower income countries, particularly in the Asian and Sub-Saharan and Sub-Saharan African regions in this report that depend primarily on local grain supplies. Conversely, the capacity to pay for imports plays a significant role for regions like Latin America and North Africa that import a relatively large share of supplies. To understand how food production and import capacity affect food security, ERS researchers estimated and projected the number of food-insecure people regionally and in each of the 76 developing countries covered in this report for 2012-22.

What Did the Study Find?

Over the next decade, ERS projects that while the number of food-insecure people for the 76 countries analyzed will increase, the share of the population that is food insecure will drop from 24 to 21 percent and the distribution gap (the quantity of food required to reach the nutritional target of roughly 2,100 calories/day for each income decile) will hold constant. However, food insecurity is estimated to become more concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, although even there the share of the population that is food insecure falls.

  • Food security is estimated to improve between 2011 and 2012. The number of food-insecure people is estimated to decline by about 12 million, from 814 million in 2011 to 802 million in 2012.
    • The number of food-insecure people in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is estimated to decrease by 4.3 percent and the distribution gap to fall by 1.8 percent.
    • Asian countries are estimated to see a small increase in the number of food-insecure people from 2011 to 2012, but a 22-percent increase in the distribution gap.
    • Food security conditions are expected to be essentially unchanged in the North African(NA) and Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) regions.
  • Over 2012-2022, the number of food-insecure people in the 76 countries covered by this report is projected to increase by 37 million, or 4.6 percent, much lower than the 16.7-percent increase in population. The distribution gap is projected to remain unchanged.
    • Conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa do not mirror this general finding. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the only region projected to have a sizable increase (15.1 percent) in the number of food-insecure people, although the share of the population that is food insecure is projected to fall from 42 percent in 2012 to 38 percent in 2022. The distribution gap is projected to rise nearly 19 percent, suggesting an increase in the intensity of food insecurity in the region.
    • The number of food-insecure people is projected to decline both in the LAC countries (by nearly 15 percent)and Asian countries (2.5 percent) included in the report, while the distribution gap declines 28 percent in both regions.

How Was the Study Conducted?

All historical and projected data were updated relative to the International Food Security Assessment, 2011-21 report. Food production estimates for 2011 were based on data from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as of March 2012. Historical production data came from FAO and food aid data came from the World Food Programme (WFP) and population data are from the United Nations. Financial and macroeconomic data were based on World Bank data as of March 2012. Projected macroeconomic variables are either based on calculated growth rates for the 1990s through the late 2000s or came from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank projections. Projections of food availability include food aid, with the assumption that each country will receive the 2008-10 average level of food aid throughout the next decade.

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