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J Nutr. 2010 Jan;140(1):170S-6S. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.110791. Epub 2009 Nov 25.

The food, fuel, and financial crises affect the urban and rural poor disproportionately: a review of the evidence.

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International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA.


The vulnerability of the urban poor to the recent food and fuel price crisis has been widely acknowledged. The unfolding global financial crisis, which brings higher unemployment and underemployment, is likely to further intensify this vulnerability. This paper reviews the evidence concerning the disproportionate vulnerability of the urban compared with the rural poor to these types of shocks. It reviews some of the unique characteristics of urban life that could make the urban poor particularly susceptible to price and financial shocks and summarizes the evidence regarding the disproportionate vulnerability of the urban poor. The focus is on impacts on poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition. The review shows that although the urban poor are clearly one of the population groups most affected by the current (and previous) crises, the rural poor, landless, and net buyers are in no better position to confront the crisis without significant suffering. The poorest of the poor are the ones who will be most affected, irrespective of the continent, country, or urban or rural area where they live. The magnitude and severity of their suffering depends on their ability to adapt and on the specific nature, extent, and duration of the coping strategies they adopt. A better understanding of how these coping strategies are used and staggered is critical to help design triggers for action that can prevent households from moving to more desperate measures. Using these early coping strategies as early warning indicators could help prevent dramatic losses in welfare.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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