Survey Shows Food Security Improving In Caribbean, Yet Challenges Remain

(CMC) – A food security and livelihoods survey has found that 3.7 million people or 52 per cent of the population of the English-speaking Caribbean remain without proper food security.

The 2023 Caribbean Food Security and Livelihoods survey, conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom), noted that this is a 10 per cent decrease when compared to an August 2022 survey.

It also underscored that there are growing financial hardships and challenges due to the rising cost of living in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In addition, 98 per cent of respondents from the English-speaking Caribbean reported high food prices in the three months before the survey, the highest level reported since the first survey in 2020.

In a region that is highly vulnerable to climate shocks, the survey found that 42 per cent of households were affected by climate-related hazards in the 12 months before the survey and that these events continue to have a significant impact on climate-sensitive livelihood activities such as in agriculture and fisheries.

“In this complex socio-economic environment that is vulnerable to climate change, the priority of Caricom and national governments to make food accessible amidst these shocks is important,” said Regis Chapman, representative and country director of WFP Caribbean Multi-Country Office.

“Collaboration across agriculture, social protection, education, and finance sectors, helps to improve livelihood opportunities and contributes to achieving affordable food for all,” he added.

The survey found that for those persons who reported disruption to their livelihoods, 65 per cent cited the unaffordability of the necessary inputs as the main cause, with domestic workers and farmers most impacted.

Salaried persons are managing slightly better, yet 40 per cent of respondents indicated job losses or salary reductions in the six months before the survey. Others have resorted to alternative or secondary sources of income to meet food and other needs, according to the survey.

The cost of living has had a widespread impact on people’s ability to continue to meet food and other needs. Rising prices for animal feed, fertiliser and fuel have also severely affected respondents engaging in farming and/or fishing.

“Food insecurity is having major effects on the socio-economic welfare of citizens throughout the region, the solution, however, can only be accomplished through joint regional efforts in the planning and execution of comprehensive sustainable actionable solutions geared towards building resilience against climatic conditions and future market disruptions,” said David Prendergast, the director, Directorate of Single Market and External Trade at Caricom.

The survey’s results are a reminder of the importance of the region’s agenda to reduce imports by 25 per cent by 2025, which includes strengthening food systems in the Caribbean so that they are resilient and adaptive to shocks and building on measures to address the affordability, accessibility, and availability of livelihood inputs.