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A new study shows the cost of eating in conflict torn regions by putting the results in U.S. dollars.

Mike Pomranz
October 16, 2017

The cost of a meal, even one you make yourself, is all relative. Grocery shopping in a city with a high cost of living like San Francisco is going to set you back more than hitting a supermarket in Peoria. But what about parts of the world where the balance between income and food prices is completely disproportionate due to war or other problems? The World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance branch of the United Nations, together with Mastercard, recently researched the most expensive places in the world to get a simple meal of bean stew and then put those results in terms of New York buying power, and the results are eye-opening.

To create baseline, the study decided on a standard meal of "a stew made of beans or other pulses, paired with a carbohydrate component that matches local preferences." In New York State, it was determined that, on average, that meal would cost about $1.20, which comes out to 0.6 percent of a New Yorkers average daily income. The study then translated that information to areas around the world and determined the five most expensive places to eat even the most basic of meals. Here are the results…

1. SOUTH SUDAN: A plate of food relative to New York (NY) income costs $321.70. A huge 155 percent of Sudanese average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food

2. NIGERIA: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $200.32—121 percent of Nigerian average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food

3. DEIR EZZOR, SYRIA: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $190.11—115 percent of Syrian average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.

4. MALAWI: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $94.43—45 percent of Malawian average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.

5. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: A plate of food relative to NY income costs $82.10—40 percent of Congolese average daily income is needed to purchase a simple plate of food.

The WFP and Mastercard hope this information helps clearly emphasize just why so many people – 815 million per day according to their numbers – around the world go hungry: The ability to afford a meal is out of their reach. And as the five locations above show, conflict is a major cause of this problem. "The research in Counting the Beans is a stark reminder of how conflict can create cruel inequalities in terms of access to food," David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP, said in a statement. "[It] illustrates just how urgent it is that the world mobilize to stop conflicts and get us closer to our goal of ending hunger by 2030." Along those lines, beyond partnering to work on this research, Mastercard has also committed to giving away 100 million meals to those in need around the world.

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