Zimbabwe has been ranked as one of the top 10 countries at “extreme risk” of facing food shortages as a result of extreme weather patterns, high rates of poverty and failing infrastructure, a survey has shown.
According to the Food Security Risk Index 2010, released by international risk analysis and rating firm, Maplecroft, countries in sub-Saharan Africa were found to be particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.
The survey uses 12 criteria developed in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) to calculate the ranking.
The criteria used include: the nutritional and health status of populations, cereal production and imports, GDP per capita, natural disasters, conflict, and the effectiveness of government.
Afghanistan is rated as least secure in food supplies, while among African nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (2), Burundi (3), Eritrea (4), Sudan (5), Ethiopia (6), Angola (7), Liberia (8), Chad (9) and Zimbabwe (10) are also considered as “extreme risk” cases.
A total of 163 countries were surveyed.
In all, African nations make up 36 of the 50 nations most at risk in the index.
“Russian brakes on exports, plus a reduction in Canada’s harvest by almost a quarter due to flooding in June, are provoking fluctuations in the commodity markets. This will further affect the food security of the most vulnerable countries,” said Fiona Place, environmental analyst at Maplecroft.
Recent figures by the Food and Agriculture Organisation indicate that nearly 1,7 million Zimbabweans would require food assistance in the 2010/11 season despite the recent recovery of the country’s troubled agriculture sector.
Professor Alyson Warhurst, CEO of Maplecroft, said:
“Food security is a critical geopolitical issue and an important factor for investors concerned with sovereign risk, food and agricultural business with respect to supply chain integrity and foreign direct investments.”
Warhurst said climate change was having a profound effect on global food security.
Zimbabwe, once the region’s breadbasket, is now a net importer of food from countries that it used to export to as a result of the chaotic land reform masterminded by President Robert Mugabe’s government.
The Food Security Risk Index is one component of Maplecroft’s resource security series of indices, which also encompass water security, energy security and a combined index for overall resource security.