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New warning system for extreme famines
Extreme fluctuations in the prices of basic foods have grave consequences, particularly for poor population groups. The University of Bonn’s Centre for Development Research (ZEF) in cooperation with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has now developed the Food Monitor (foodmonitor.org), a warning traffic light system which presents information in a novel way. This makes it possible to identify price risks earlier and take measures accordingly.
Current prices for the most important basic foods (rice, maize, wheat and soybeans) are displayed in near real-time and the traffic light system is used to identify emerging supply problems for the individual products. Google news feeds are used to collect current reports on food and incorporate these in the assessment. Links to Twitter make the information immediately available.
There were food shortages in more than 40 countries in 2007/8, ranging from Afghanistan through Haiti to Tunisia. One of the causes was price speculations, particularly for wheat, maize and rice. A lack of information and preparation and helpless governments led to the so-called “hunger revolts”.
The information from the Food Monitor is intended to allow early countermeasures to be taken. For example, states could make their grain reserves available on the local market. The Food Monitor makes it possible for aid organisations and those affected locally to respond faster.
The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ).
Visit the Food Monitor website
(University of Bonn/ile)