The Food, Fuel, and Financial Crises Affect the Urban and Rural Poor Disproportionately: A Review of the Evidence
This paper reviews the evidence concerning the disproportionate vulnerability of the urban compared with the rural poor to these types of shocks. It reviews some of the unique characteristics of urban life that could make the urban poor particularly susceptible to price and financial shocks, and summarizes the evidence regarding the disproportionate vulnerability of the urban poor in terms of poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition. The review shows that although the urban poor are clearly one of the population groups most affected by crises, the rural poor, landless, and net buyers are in no better position to confront the crisis without significant suffering. The poorest of the poor are the ones who will be most affected, irrespective of the continent, country, or urban or rural area where they live. The magnitude and severity of their suffering depends on their ability to adapt and on the specific nature, extent, and duration of the coping strategies they adopt. A better understanding of how these coping strategies are used and staggered is critical to help design triggers for action that can prevent households from moving to more desperate measures. Using these early coping strategies as early warning indicators could help prevent dramatic losses in welfare.
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