Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Food price rises increase poverty pressure

High world food and oil prices have hit Honiara food prices very hard, with one recent report noting a 20% rise in just one month, of the retail rice prices:
In less then a month the price of food has jumped quite significantly, a 20 kilo bag of rice now cost SBD$138, up from SBD$115, the price for a loaf of bread is now SBD$7, up from SBD$5.50, a small packet of sugar, which was then SBD$5.00, is now SBD$6.00.
This despite the government's recent budget announcement abolishing import duty on rice and current announcement by the Finance Minister of further cuts on other items:
"...the reduction in import duty will only apply to essential household and food items. The consumers will be the biggest winners the purchasing power of a dollar should increase with this reduction"
These increases will be sure to impact the urban poor which have gotten recent attention in Solomon Star through the story of a single mother and her daughter living on the street:
A young woman and her little daughter scavenging on the streets for bottles and cans and sleeping in the market? This is not the image we are known for...

Helping each other and being there for each other is the heart of the wantok system.
One wouldn’t allow his or her relative to live on the streets. It is just not in our culture for this to happen.

When we read the story about Dianne it portrays a different picture of our country. It indicates a breakdown of the family unit which we proudly treasure.
While urban poverty has been longstanding in the obvious form of families living in Honiara dump, this new presence of street living means the developing international food situation is likely to impact very visibly on Honiara.