CAIRO - Egypt's economic crisis poses a threat to basic nutrition in the country of 84 million people where the poorest spend more than half their income on food, the World Food Program (WFP) said on Thursday.
WFP country director Gian Pietro Bordignon's warning underscores one of the main challenges facing President Mohamed Morsi's government as it grapples with an economic crisis caused by two years of instability.
"The economic crises are putting more and more people in a very risky situation," Bordignon told Reuters in an interview. "The situation is deteriorating and has to be tackled right now because it's a very risky trend."
He added that the problem was not availability of food, but people's ability, especially the poor, to pay for it.
"There's no lack of food. There's lack of money for the families to buy food. It's a matter of economic access to food," Bordignon said. "One of the risks of the economic downturn is that there could be in the future less availability of food."
The poverty rate in Egypt climbed from 21 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2011 - the year Egyptians overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising that was partly fueled by economic grievances. Another 20 percent of the population lives near the poverty line, according to the World Bank.