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What a plate of food costs the poor

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The cost of a plate of food in the world’s poorest countries can reach hundreds of US dollars in purchasing power equivalent.
New research from the World Food Programme and Mastercard has shown that people in developing countries face having to pay up to a day’s earnings for one basic meal — even more in cases of civil conflict or economic collapse.
The differences with the rich world are stark. New York State is the baseline for the Counting the Beans: The True Cost of Food around the World. There, a simple plate of food such as a bean stew costs $1.20 to make. This represents 0,6% of average daily income. By contrast, in South Sudan, the worst-ranking country in the study, a plate of food costs 268-times this ratio, or the equivalent of $321.70.
The study also calculates the percentage of average daily income it takes in each given country to purchase a simple plate of food.
The study’s conclusions have strengthened Mastercard’s resolve to reach its goal, announced as part of a global initiative, of providing over 100-million meals to those in need around the world.
The worst-scoring countries and territories, according to the study, are:
* South Sudan: A plate of food relative to New York (NY) income costs $321.70, and a massive 155% of Sudanese average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.
* Nigeria: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $200.32, and 121% of Nigerian average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.
* Deir Ezzor, Syria: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $190.11, and 115% of Syrian average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.
* Malawi: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $94.43, and 45% of Malawian average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.
* Democratic Republic of Congo: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $82.10, and 40% of Congolese average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.
“Without food we cannot live, learn or grow,” says Ann Cairns, president: international at Mastercard. “At Mastercard, we are harnessing technology and resources to improve lives and end the cycle of poverty. Our commitment to deliver 100 million meals, and our partnership with WFP, will help bring closer a world free of hunger.”
Every day, 815-million people go hungry. Other WFP research supported by Mastercard’s data experts has found a direct link between nutritious school meals and academic achievement and productivity in later life. Children who benefited from a 10-year school meals project in Sri Lanka went on to earn 5% more as working adults.
A cost-benefit analysis also found that every $1 invested in school meals brings an economic return of $3 to $10.
“Parents often face agonising choices,” Cairns adds. “Should they send children out to work in order to feed the family, or send them to school and have the family starve? By sponsoring school meals, we allow children to stay in school, learn and become more productive working adults. Families, communities and ultimately entire economies prosper.”
“The research in Counting the Beans is a stark reminder of how conflict can create cruel inequalities in terms of access to food,” says David Beasley, executive director of WFP. “Mastercard’s committed partnership has enabled us to dig deeper into what is behind these issues, and we have been able to present pioneering solutions that can offset some of the worst repercussions of the conflicts, disasters and food supply chain problems that lead to food insecurity. Counting the Beans illustrates just how urgent it is that the world mobilize to stop conflicts and get us closer to our goal of ending hunger by 2030.”