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Food Price Volatility over the Last Decade in Niger and Malawi: Extent, Sources and Impact on Child Malnutrition



Recently, considerable attention has rightly been paid to the nutritional impact of the sharp hikes in international food prices which took place in 2007-8 and, again, in 2010-11. While sacrosanct, this growing focus has somewhat obscured the effect of other factors which do affect malnutrition in the Sub-Saharan Africa context, i.e. the long term impact of agricultural policies, huge and persistent seasonal variation in domestic food prices, and the impact of famines which still regularly stalk the continent. This paper focuses on the relative weight of these factors in explaining child malnutrition (proxied by the number of child admissions to feeding centers) in Malawi and Niger, two prototypical countries in the region. The analysis shows that the drivers of domestic food staple prices and of the ensuing child malnutrition have to be found not only – or not primarily – in the changes of international food prices but mainly in the impact of agricultural policies on food production, the persistence of a strong food price seasonality, and recurrent and often poorly attended famines. Indeed, even during years of declines in international food prices, these factors often exert a huge upward pressures on domestic food prices and child malnutrition.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Andrea Cornia & Laura Deotti & Maria Sassi, 2012. "Food Price Volatility over the Last Decade in Niger and Malawi: Extent, Sources and Impact on Child Malnutrition," Working Papers - Economics wp2012_04.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  • Handle: RePEc:frz:wpaper:wp2012_04.rdf

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    Cited by:

    1. Higgins, Nathaniel & Hintermann, Beat & Brown, Molly E., 2015. "A model of West African millet prices in rural markets," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 33-43.
    2. Maria Sassi, 2015. "Seasonality and Trends in Child Malnutrition: Time-Series Analysis of Health Clinic Data from the Dowa District of Malawi," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(12), pages 1667-1682, December.
    3. UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa & Bruno Martorano & Giovanni Andrea Cornia, "undated". "The Dynamics of Income Inequality in a Dualistic Economy: Malawi over 1990-2011," UNDP Africa Policy Notes 2017-13, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa.
    4. Sassi, Maria, 2015. "The welfare cost of maize price volatility in Malawi," Bio-based and Applied Economics Journal, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA), vol. 0(Issue 1), pages 1-24, April.

    More about this item


    Food prices; Famines; Seasonality; Food Policy; Child malnutrition; Niger; Malawi;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • Q13 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Markets and Marketing; Cooperatives; Agribusiness
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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