The effect of food-price movements on African households - An investigation of food production and consumption patterns in four African countries
The recent spike in world food prices has intensiﬁed the debate regarding the impact of food prices on poverty. In this paper we
aim to assess households’ vulnerability to food-price increases in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using household data
from the World Bank’s Living Standard Measurement Surveys in Ghana (2005–2006), Kagera region, Tanzania (2004), Malawi
(2004–2005) and South Africa (1993) we analyze food production and consumption patterns in rural and urban populations. We
use two established indicators of sensitivity to food price changes—one measuring the share of income spent on food, the other
measuring net sales of food compared to total expenditures. We ﬁnd that the shares of the populations spending more than half
of their income on food ranges from 62–81% in rural areas and from 26–67% in urban areas. Further we ﬁnd that in all regions
studied, most households (74–99%) in rural areas are net buyers of food and stand to lose in the short term from higher food prices.
As expected, for urban households this is true to an even higher extent. In contrast to earlier studies we look at all food items and
not just one or a few staple foods, giving a better understanding of vulnerability to general food price changes. We ﬁnd that the
exclusion of non-staple foods has a signiﬁcant impact on theresults.