The second year results of a four-year study on how food price volatility affects everyday life uncovers the grassroots realities of the right to food. Most societies have shared understandings of the rights and responsibilities around protection against hunger.
Customary rights and responsibilities, patchy and uneven at the best of times, are affected by rapid changes in food prices and responses to them; becoming less effective buffers against the global drivers of food insecurity. People at risk of hunger are keenly receptive to state and civil society action that strengthens their sense of right to food, but formal responsibilities for action are often unclear and monitoring systems rarely capture local realities.
Food security programmes are often demeaning, divisive, unreliable, discriminatory and discretionary. This weakness of public accountability for food security would matter less if people felt that markets were doing the job of guaranteeing access to good food. However, complaints about volatile and rising food prices continue to be a feature of everyday life, contrary to the overall impression of falling prices on world markets.