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Life in a time of food price volatility

Huong Ha Nhan Dat sells ricecakes in Hanoi, Viet Nam. The cost of the ingredients for rice doubled in 2008. Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

At a glance

A collaborative research project between Oxfam and IDS monitoring the impacts of, and responses to, volatile food prices in 10 developing countries.


Life in a time of food price volatility is a four-year (2012-15) research project to monitor the impacts of, and responses to, volatile food prices in poor communities in ten developing countries. It aims to inform short-term efforts to help people cope with high and fluctuating food prices, and to influence the design of food security and social protection responses over the longer term. 

The project responds to emerging knowledge needs in a period of volatility and uncertainty around global food security.

New: Our Food security and price inflation charts allow you to interactively explore some of the food security and price data routinely collected as part of the project.

Our approach

This research is a collaboration between Oxfam, the Institute of Development Studies, and our research partners in the ten focus countries. It is based on generating evidence through integrated in-depth qualitative and innovative quantitative research, which will complement and build on a synthesis of existing data sources. You can download the results of both year 1 and year 2.

We aim to generate evidence about how high and unpredictable food prices affect overall well-being and development in poor or vulnerable communities.

Specifically, we are looking at the following aspects of high and unpredictable food prices:

  • How they affect the essential day-to-day work of keeping families fed and cared for.
  • How well the support systems on which people routinely rely - whether state or non-state - help people cope with sharp changes in the cost of living.

The research is designed to be longitudinal because we also want to understand the dynamics of these impacts and responses: how do they change over time, and against a backdrop of changing prices?

UK Aid logo

Earlier rounds of research in a subset of the focus countries were coordinated by IDS under the project 'The Social Impacts of Crisis'. 


This project is funded by The UK GovernmentIrish Aid, Oxfam and the BRAC Development Institute.

Squeezed film

Lead researcher Naomi Hossain on the first year findings of the research and their implications.

Food price data and research sites map

Interactive map showing food price data and research sites. Green dots represent rural research sites, red dots represent urban and yellow pins mark where we have food price data. Visit the map.