Dangerous Repercussions of the Worsening 'Food Crisis'

  • 12 June 2008

The world lives through a worsening food crisis that has spread to many countries, especially in the developing world, and has had negative effects on stability. It is expected that the effects of this crisis will increase to such an extent that it might lead to widespread disturbances in many parts of the world. Indeed, some countries have experienced instability and demonstrations related to food prices such as Egypt, Algeria, and Mauritania, which witnessed violent and threatening incidents.

Officials around the world have shown a clear understanding of the nature of the dangers posed by this crisis. The International Monetary Fund has warned before of the dangerous consequences of higher food prices, including war, and called for action to bring spiraling inflation under control. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF Managing Director, stated that "if current prices continue to rise, the consequences will be catastrophic." Similarly, the World Food Program has called for an international effort to face the crisis which was described by the program's Executive Director Josette Sheeran as a "silent tsunami." She also said that the crisis is so dangerous that it necessitates an intervention by the international community similar to that during the tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 220,000 in twelve countries a few years ago.

But despite the awareness of international institutions of the gravity of the situation, what remains more important are the responses that these institutions should devise to alleviate its negative consequences. What is thus required is a comprehensive strategy for dealing with all of the aspects of the crisis and it effects. Many have emphasized the important role that should be played by relevant international institutions regarding assisting developing nations in overcoming the food crisis. Many have also discussed the possibility that these institutions may lead the way in establishing an anti-poverty international partnership that would guarantee the participation of concerned states and institutions in fighting the scourge.

Moreover, if international institutions are called upon to play an important role, affluent countries must also do their share in this regard through support for developing nations, following through on their pledges for assistance to poor countries, and refraining from limiting the assistance. Only these actions will help poor and developing countries in conquering the challenges of development that lead to an increase in poverty and hunger.

The world has truly become a global village. Crises undergone by some countries will directly affect others. Pooling of international resources and efforts to defeat the food crisis is now the most important and pressing task on the international stage.