The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faces important challenges concerning food insecurity reflected in the double burden of malnutrition, under nutrition and over nutrition, with high prevalence of anaemia especially among children and women. Social Protection Programs may play significant role in affecting food security “directly” by affecting food supply and availability through providing basic goods at low prices or through agricultural subsidies. But the SPPs in the region are fragmented, poorly targeted, covering only formal employees with an increasing budget and low adequacy. This yields to an impact on food security and poverty less than what is expected. Using data from the World Development Indicator, FAOSTAT and IFPRI-Arab Spatial, the paper studies the impact of social expenditure on food security. Two dimensions are analyzed; food access and food availability, in eight countries of the region during the period from 2000 to 2011. The estimated results show that the prevalence of undernourishment and the prevalence of anemia among children decrease with the increase of social protection spending and with the existence of universal subsidies. Conditional and unconditional cash transfers have a significantly negative effect only on food access but not on food utilization. Additionally, the higher the share of agriculture in GDP and the lower the food price volatility, the better the food security status in the region.
Topics in Middle Eastern and North African Economies
Middle East Economic Association and Loyola University Chicago
Ramadan, Racha, "How to Protect the Poor Food Insecure in the MENA region?". Topics in Middle Eastern and North African Economies, electronic journal, 21, 1, Middle East Economic Association and Loyola University Chicago, 2019, http://www.luc.edu/orgs/meea/
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