16 Aug 2011: Rising Food Costs CompoundingThe volatility of global food prices has contributed to the growing humanitarian tragedy in the Horn of Africa and will continue to keep the world’s poorest populations on the edge of starvation, according to a new report by the World Bank. While the emergency was triggered by prolonged drought conditions, near-record prices for staple crops such as maize, sugar, and wheat have compounded the situation, the Food Price Watch report says. According to the report, global food prices overall are nearing the record levels of 2008 and remain 33 percent higher than last summer, with the price of maize 84 percent higher, and wheat prices up 62 percent. “Persistently high food prices and low food stocks indicate that we’re still in the danger zone, with the most vulnerable people the least able to cope,” World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said in a statement. About 29,000 children under the age of five have died in Somalia in the last three months, and 600,000 more children across the region remain at risk. Contributing to the rising prices, the report warns, is the extensive use of agricultural lands for biofuel production, specifically the U.S.’s corn ethanol sector.
East African Famine, World Bank Says