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Afghanistan, African Countries Lead Global Food Insecurity List

Afghanistan and nine African countries top a list measuring global food insecurity, which was released on Thursday, Agence France-Presse reports.

The risk analysis firm Maplecroft compiled the Food Security Risk Index 2010 based on a survey of 163 countries. The firm consulted with the U.N. World Food Program to develop 12 measures of food security, including “cereal production, GDP per capita, risk of extreme weather events, quality of agricultural and distribution infrastructure, conflict and effectiveness of government,” AFP writes (8/18).

“Poverty, poor infrastructure and the ongoing war between NATO forces and insurgents” contributed to putting Afghanistan in the top spot, the U.K. Press Association reports. “Maplecroft said the food security situation there remained precarious because of the continuing violence, failing road and telecommunications networks and the country’s vulnerability to droughts and flooding” (8/18).

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Angola, Liberia, Chad and Zimbabwe follow Afghanistan on the list and are also considered at “extreme risk” for food insecurity, according to a Maplecroft press release. “In all, African nations make up 36 of the 50 nations most at risk in the index,” the press release states. “Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to food insecurity because of the frequency of extreme weather events, high rates of poverty and failing infrastructures, including road and telecommunications networks, which decrease both production and distribution capacity. Conflict is also a major driver of food insecurity and the ongoing violence in Afghanistan and DR Congo is largely responsible for the precarious food security situation in both countries” (8/19).

Fiona Place, an environmental analyst at Maplecroft, said, “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.” According to Place, this activity “will further affect the food security of the most vulnerable countries,” the Guardian writes (Allen, 8/19).