Situation Monitoring: Food Price Increases in the Pacific Islands
In response to the high food and fuel prices in 2008 and consecutive global economic crisis which hit the Pacific Island in 2009, UNICEF Pacific together with UN agencies and Pacific Island governments initiated a sentinel monitoring mechanism to gauge the social impact of the economic shocks on the most vulnerable families. The sentinel monitoring system is designed to provide information on how families and communities are affected by increased economic stress. Of particular concern is the impact on nutrition for the most vulnerable population groups including children under-5 years of age, and especially those between 12-24 months old. Also of concern is the impact on education, health and livelihoods. The system provides real-time pulse data to trigger policies that mitigate the consequences of the economic shocks and ensure the progress towards MDGs, especially education, child and maternal mortality is not impeded or reversed. Initial results from data collected at the end of 2010 raise an alarming picture of rising food prices in sentinel sites across the Pacific. Across the board, surveyed families reported increased economic stress in meeting the increased cost of food. Knock-on effects are being reported in children’s access to adequate nutrition, education and protection. This paper will respond to key questions in regards to rising food prices: 1) who are the most affected/vulnerable to the food price increase in the Pacific Islands, 2) what are the current and future humanitarian impacts of food price increase 3) what are the policy response taken by the Pacific Island Countries? The report starts with vulnerability mapping as a point of analysis. The major observations were drawn from the early warning sentinel monitoring system installed in six of the ten high priority countries since late 2009.