Iraq: Report highlights decrease in food insecurity

Tuesday, December 04, 2012
[PHOTO: Petty Officer 1st Class Carmichael Yepez/DVIDSHUB/CC BY 2.0] 
Baghdad: A new report by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Iraq shows that the number of Iraqis who are food insecure has decreased by more than quarter of a million compared to 2007.

Entitled Food Security, Living Conditions and Social Transfers in Iraq, the report, jointly conducted by the Government of Iraq and WFP, was launched on Monday in a ceremony at the Council of Ministers Secretariat (COMSEC). The Secretary General of COMSEC and the President of the Public Distribution System (PDS) Reform Committee H.E. Ali Muhsin Ismail Al-Alak, WFP Representative and Country Director Edward Kallon and the Senior Deputy Minister of Planning Dr. Mahdi M. Al-Alak presented the report.

The survey found that the rates of food insecurity in Iraq fell from 7.1 percent in 2007 - affecting 2.2 million Iraqis - to 5.7 percent in 2011, affecting 1.9 million people. The Basra governorate was the most-affected – with half a million food insecure people living there – followed by Baghdad, Thi Qar and Ninewa.

The report sheds light on the vital role of the public distribution system (PDS) in ensuring food security and decent living standards for the poorest households. 

“The Public Distribution System, which was established over two decades ago to help the Iraqi population avoid widespread hunger in the aftermath of war and subsequent sanctions, continues its role as a safety net against hunger, providing crucial support to millions of poor and vulnerable Iraqis today,” said WFP’s Kallon.

“The efforts made by our partners in the Government of Iraq, which are visible in the analysis and recommendations of this report, represent a solid step forward towards achieving our common goal of food security for all in Iraq,” he said.

The report presents an analysis of the cost effectiveness of a poverty-targeted PDS in achieving improved food security and compares it to three possible alternatives: replacing the food basket with direct cash transfers to the poor; distributing the current food basket to those under the poverty line using electronic food vouchers; and using electronic cards to target the poor with alternative food baskets.
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