Food riots: Media perspectives on the causes of food protest in Africa
When food prices spiked in 2007–8, urban Africa experienced more instances of food riots than any other part of the world. Problems were then encountered again during the 2010–11 food price spikes. This paper explores the cases of 14 African countries where food riots occurred during these two periods by presenting a qualitative content analysis of news reports on the riots drawn from both global and local African news sources. This analysis highlights the ways in which the media portrayed the links between food price rises and food riots in Africa. Briefly, our results show that the international media generally portrayed poverty and hunger as the factors that linked the incidence of food price rises with the occurrence of riots. By contrast, the African media tended to portray food riots as being caused by a more complex set of factors, including citizen dissatisfaction and people’s ability to mobilize. Exploring both the international and local interpretations of the drivers behind the food riots is important for the understanding of the multi-scalar and multifaceted factors that shape increasing food insecurity in urban Africa.