Food prices and how people are eating: Views from 'Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility' | Oxfam

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How do households cope with increases in food prices? How have their eating habits changed in the face of food price volatility? These case studies form part of the second year of Oxfam
  OXFAM CASE STUDY AUGUST 2014   Mrs Q.’s mother prepares roti with bee’h (lotus root) for the household. Photo: Collective for Social Science Research WHAT ARE PEOPLE EATING? Views from Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility Mrs Q., climate migrant in Dadu, Pakistan, 2013    ALEXANDRA WANJIKU KELBERT RESEARCHER, INSTITUTE OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES This case study is one of several produced to accompany Help Yourself! , the second year synthesis report from the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility research project. Other case studies, country reports, synthesis reports, and further information about the project can be found at  In Dadu, on the right bank of the Indus River, there is an overwhelming sense that the vast majority of people became worse off in 2013 as a result of rapid inflation and that, for the most part, the current government is to blame for the worsening conditions. The immediate causes of inflation include tax increases, hikes in fuel prices and utility charges, shortfalls in agricultural production and increases in agricultural inputs. 20-year-old Mrs Q. and her 30-year-old husband have four children aged four, three and two years, and 4 months. Their family is one of the many migrant families whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the floods in 2010. Since then they have been living alongside many others in a derelict school building. Mrs Q. explains that she is hopeful that her husband’s new job will mean better conditions for her family in the near future. Her husband was a ‘starter’, a daily wage worker at a bus stand, earning on average PKR 200 (£1.20) per day, when there was work available. She explains that sometimes he would go for five days with no work. However, eight months ago he got a job with the police department and is now completing his training in Karachi. Mr Q. is now earning PKR 16,000 per month (around £3.20 per day).  At the moment most of Mr Q.’s salary is spent on accommodation and expenses in the capital. Mrs Q. explains that one of her sons is unwell and so she has to pay for medical treatment. Her average expenditure for one week is PKR 700. Mrs Q. gets most of her groceries on loan from the local shopkeeper. Her debt has now reached PKR 10,000 (£60.30). Mrs Q. explains that commodities used to be relatively cheap but have now become expensive. The table below illustrates some of the price changes in day-to-day expenses. Items Current price (PKR) Unit Last year’s price (PKR) Wheat 1,200 Sack 1,200 Wheat flour 40 kg 30 Rice 90 kg 60–70 1 chanai (split gram) 60 kg 40–50 1 bhah palak (spinach) 50 500g 25–30 2 potatoes 30 kg 15–20 3 bhindi  (lady fingers) 80 kg 30–40 Milk 60 kg 30–40 Chicken 280 kg 180–200 Small fish 110 kg 60–70 Tea 10 Sachet 7 Oil/ghee 140 Packet 110 Sugar 60 kg 40–50 Salt 5 Packet 2–3 Chillies 200 kg 50 2  Mrs Q.’s mother cooks for the family with ingredients purchased by Mrs Q. They then eat together. On a normal day, the family has tea and paratha  or roti  (flatbreads) for breakfast, daal chana  (split gram pulses) and rice for lunch, fried potatoes and rice for dinner and tea with samosas later in the evening. On the day the team met the family, Mrs Q.’s mother was preparing roti with bee’h (lotus root) for the household. Recipe for the bee’h Spinach leaves – 1kg Bee’h – 1kg Ginger – 1 or 2 pieces Green chillies – 6 or 7 pieces Onions – 2 medium-sized pieces Tomatoes – 4 pieces Salt – half a tablespoon Pepper – half a tablespoon Mrs Q. explains that as her children grow up, they need to eat more, which adds to the financial pressure of keeping everyone fed. She is hopeful that next month when her husband returns, their condition will improve. 3  © Oxfam International August 2014 This case study was written by Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert, based on srcinal research led by the Collective for Social Science Research. It does not necessarily reflect Oxfam or IDS policy positions. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam or IDS or those of the funding organizations. For further information on the issues raised in this paper please e-mail This publication is copyright but the text may be used free of charge for the purposes of advocacy, campaigning, education, and research, provided that the source is acknowledged in full. The copyright holder requests that all such use be registered with them for impact assessment purposes. For copying in any other circumstances, or for re-use in other publications, or for translation or adaptation, permission must be secured and a fee may be charged. E-mail The information in this publication is correct at the time of going to press. Published by Oxfam GB for Oxfam International under ISBN 978-1-78077-666-8 in August 2014. Oxfam GB, Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY, UK. OXFAM Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty. Please write to any of the agencies for further information, or visit Funded by
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