Thursday 1 September 2011 
Whilst attention is paid to the desperate famine and hunger situation in the Horn of Africa a new study released by risk analysis and mapping company Maplecroft, has highlighted the food security risks in 196 countries across the world. The study was based on key elements of food security as laid out by the United Nation's Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which is measured using 12 indicators including availability and access to food, stability of food supplies and nutritional health status of populations. 

But what do we mean by food security? For many westerners the concept of food security may not mean a great deal but it refers to the sustained availability and access to nutritious food. In a stable society food security is easier to maintain as it requires forward planning and careful monitoring from field to government level, ensuring enough food is produced and reaches everyone who needs it. However, in countries where stable governments do not exist food INsecurity often prevails. This problem is often exasperated by war and conflict, natural disasters, poor climate and failing infrastructure. For example, conflict may force people away from their homes and livelihoods resulting in less financial income which in turn leaves less money for food. Each contributing factor seemingly has a negative affect on another. 
In some respects it may come as little surprise that the Maplecroft study shows the countries with extreme food security risk to be those in Sub-Saharan Africa and Afghanistan - many of which have been ravaged by conflict for a number of years. It is also interesting to note however that countries such as India, which has benefited from a booming economy in recent years, are home to some of the worlds poorest people who go to bed hungry each day - a sure sign that the distribution of wealth is desperately uneven.
This latest study and map is an important reminder that our food is a global thing and that the problems facing those in far off lands are ultimately our problems too as it is the same global food system that feeds us all.
For further information visit the Maplecroft website.