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A recent food security and livelihoods survey conducted by the World Food Programme and CARICOM in the Caribbean revealed that 3.7 million people, or 52% of the population of the English-speaking Caribbean, remain food insecure.

This is a 10% decrease when compared to an August 2022 survey, however, it underscored growing financial hardship and challenges due to the rising cost of living in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The 2023 Caribbean Food Security and Livelihoods survey, carried out among English-speaking Caribbean countries, found that 98% of respondents reported high food prices in the three months prior to the survey, the highest level reported since the first survey in 2020. 

In a region that is highly vulnerable to climate shocks, the survey revealed that 42% of households were affected by climate-related hazards in the 12 months prior to the survey. These events continue to have a significant impact on climate sensitive livelihood activities such as in agriculture and fisheries.

“In this complex socio-economic environment that is vulnerable to climate change, the priority of CARICOM and national governments to make food accessible amidst these shocks is important,” Regis Chapman, representative and country director WFP Caribbean Multi-Country Office, said.

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“Collaboration across agriculture, social protection, education, and finance sectors, helps to improve livelihood opportunities and contributes to achieving affordable food for all.”

For people who reported a disruption to their livelihoods, 65% cited the unaffordability of the necessary inputs as the main cause, with domestic workers and farmers most impacted. Salaried persons are managing slightly better, yet 40% of respondents indicated job losses or salary reductions in the six months before the survey.

Others have resorted to alternative or secondary sources of income to meet food and other needs, according to the survey.

The cost of living has had a widespread impact on people’s ability to continue to meet food and other needs. Rising prices for animal feed, fertiliser and fuel have also severely affected respondents engaging in farming and/or fishing.

“Food insecurity is having major effects on the socio-economic welfare of citizens throughout the region, the solution, however, can only be accomplished through joint regional efforts in the planning and execution of comprehensive sustainable actionable solutions geared towards building resilience against climatic conditions and future market disruptions,” said David Prendergast, director, Directorate of Single Market and External Trade CARICOM.

The survey’s results are a reminder of the importance of the region’s agenda to reduce imports by 25% by 2025, which includes strengthening food systems in the Caribbean so that they are resilient and adaptive to shocks and building on measures to address the affordability, accessibility, and availability of livelihood inputs.

The survey was completed with the support of the Government of Canada, the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development, Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance.