ISPI MED This Week

MED This Week | The Costs of Food Insecurity in the MENA Region. A Conversation with Roberta Gatti.

The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed insights on the most significant developments in the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. This week, we focus on the impact of food insecurity in the Middle East and North Africa, with an exclusive interview with Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist of the MENA region of the World Bank.

With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the risk of increasing food insecurity in the Middle East and North Africa has been a major concern for national authorities, international organizations and observers. This has been due to the high dependence of many countries on both Russia and Ukraine for food imports, especially cereals, and the consequent risk of disruptions. Before the war, Egypt and Türkiye received 53.9% and 71.7% respectively of their grain from Moscow, while Lebanon imported more than half from Ukraine. Food inflation has reached its most significant increase in the last decades – the FAO Cereal Price index alone rose by 17.9% in 2022 compared to the previous year, significantly impacting national budgets and public finances. Food insecurity impacted several other areas: for instance, the sustainability of the social contract, the impact on child health and development, the resilience of agricultural systems, and the increasingly evident effects of climate change. What are the long-term implications of rising food prices and food insecurity in the MENA region? How can MENA countries mitigate food inflation and tackle food insecurity? And how can their governments intervene in food systems without fuelling popular discontent?

Where does the MENA region get its wheat from? 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has increased the threat of food insecurity in the MENA region. Spiralling food costs and the risk of disruption have particularly challenged grain-importing countries, in particular the ones most exposed to imports from both Russia and Ukraine.

Food Inflation in the MENA region

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the average food inflation rose for almost all MENA economies. The countries that have had the most significant increases are Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria

Severe Food Insecurity in the MENA Region

Looking at the future of the MENA region, low-income countries like Syria and Yemen have the highest percentage of food-insecure people.



Keep in touch with the conference

Subscribe to MED newsletter