Inequality in the Arab Region: Food Insecurity Fuels Inequality - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia


Inequality in the Arab Region: Food Insecurity Fuels Inequality

June 2023

The Arab region is the most unequal in the world, and inequality is increasing. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, high interest rates, growing debt burdens, the cost-of-living crisis and the repercussions of the war in Ukraine - which has disproportionately affected food and energy prices - are all contributing to widening inequality, both between and within countries. Inequalities in income and wealth are mirrored by inequalities in access to food. Around 181 million people across the region, close to 35 per cent of the Arab population, are food insecure; 12 million more than just one year ago. The majority of food insecure people also live in poverty.

This report analyses the four pillars of food security: access, availability, utilization and stability, from an inequality lens. It provides policy recommendations for addressing inequality in food security through strengthening agricultural systems, production and trade, and also for mitigating climate change while adapting to its growing effects and improving disaster risk management. The report calls for immediate humanitarian assistance when shocks do occur, without political implications. Regional solidarity is called for in redistributing resources from those that have plenty to those that do not, coupled with increased investments in health, education and social protection.

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