Monday, May 7, 2012

Stan Cox Stan Cox Stan Cox is a senior scientist at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, US. RSS Iraq's sagging safety net

In a country with huge potential oil wealth, food rationing and distribution is keeping much of the population alive.

Salina, KS - In February 2011, with grassroots uprisings having toppled the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, unrest was swelling in Iraq as well. In response, the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that it was postponing a planned purchase of F16 fighter planes from the United States. The money saved by not buying the 18 jets would be used, said al-Maliki, to provide Iraq's poorest citizens with increased monthly rations from the country's public food distribution system (PDS). The cancellation was a stark acknowledgment that when people are hungry, armaments won't keep a country secure.

Iraq's government, like many others, learned long ago about the hazards of exposing citizens' daily food needs to the whims of global markets. Anticipating the political and social tumult that can erupt if people's right to food is not fulfilled, Iraq, like many other countries, routinely buys up and stores staple foods and then sells them through a PDS at subsidised prices. But more than a year after pulling out of the F16 deal, the government was still straining to maintain secure access to food.

For countless families around the world, a ration card or coupon booklet may be all that stands between them and a month or even a life of hunger. Read More