The aim of this study is to investigate and document poor people’s experiences of food price volatility in ten countries. In Ethiopia, senior researchers carried out a qualitative study in two communities, one urban from Addis Ababa and one rural in the Oromia region, in each of the last three years. This year’s research was carried out in the same season in 2014 with the same respondents and field researchers.
This year, in addition to exploring themes relating to wellbeing, coping strategies in the face of relatively high and volatile prices, unpaid care and social relations, the research focused on pre-prepared and processed foods, in an attempt to understand the adequacy and acceptability of the food people are eating in the research communities; focusing specifically on how food habits and customs are being influenced by processed foods and foods perceived to be unsafe. In particular we were interested in a) the incentives for the consumption of processed foods, b) the worries attached to their consumption and c) the structures in place to address some of these concerns.
This year, the collective outcome of global decline in oil prices, strong government intervention in regulating prices of items and a good harvest, are witnessed in the eased life of many people in the study areas. Some of the government interventions include the establishment of institutions that regulate food prices and promote fair trade, the subsidizing of condominium housing construction, as well as an increase in salaries and the provision of free public transport for the civil servants. Moreover, last year good harvest has brought a good supply of food items in the country.