Food Security in the Middle East and North Africa
To date, one of the few comprehensive indicators for the measurement of food security is the Global Food Security Index (GFSI). This index is a dynamic quantitative and qualitative benchmarking model, constructed from 28 unique indicators, that measures drivers of food security across both developing and developed countries. Whereas the GFSI has been calculated across a set of 109 countries, in this paper we aim to present and compare, for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), 1) the Food Security Index scores achieved and 2) the data available on affordability, availability, and quality of food. The data for this work was taken from the latest available report published by the creators of the GFSI, which in turn used information from national and international statistical sources. MENA countries rank from place 17/109 (Israel, although with resent political turmoil this is likely to have changed) to place 91/109 (Yemen) with household expenditure spent in food ranging from 15.5% (Israel) to 60% (Egypt). Lower spending on food as a share of household consumption in most countries and better food safety net programs in the MENA have contributed to a notable increase in food affordability. The region has also, however, experienced a decline in food availability, owing to more limited food supplies and higher volatility of agricultural production. In terms of food quality and safety the MENA has the top ranking country (Israel). The most frequent challenges faced by the countries of the MENA include public expenditure on agricultural research and development as well as volatility of agricultural production. Food security is a complex phenomenon that interacts with many other indicators of a country’s wellbeing; in the MENA it is slowly but markedly improving.
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