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Delegates feel the heat as food prices sour

28 November 2012, The Zimbabwean

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 18th Conference of Parties (COP18) being held in Doha, Qatar, heats up, delegates have started feeling the heat, as food prices have become so high.

Exorbitant rates of snacks and refreshments at a number of outlets functioning at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) have come under fi re from visiting delegates, including those from the US and Europe.

“This is ridiculous and I can believe that I am paying about four US dollars for a muffin which in my country is less than a dollar,” Obafemi Ade a delegate from Nigeria.

Ade said the things are so expensive that you will have to think twice before you buy something. “I have been attending COP meetings for a long time and Qatar is a thorn in the flesh when it comes to food prices,” he added.

Some African delegates said they had come to the conference on a modest budget and they feared their pockets would be empty even before the meeting crossed the half-way stage. “We may have to go with little food per day. Surely we can’t buy a sandwich, made from a single bread slice, for QR25,” one delegate from Mozambique who asked for anonymity said.

Qatar a tiny Gulf nation, a salt scoured spit of land, has no rivers, no lakes and annual rainfall averaging 74 mm barely enough to produce food. The country imports 95% of its total food needs. It has about 1,200 farms and only around 300 actually produce “something”.

One US dollar is 3, 64 Qatari Riyal (QAR). The delegates said the organisers should have also allowed setting up of some outlets where foodstuff s are sold at affordable rates and also allowed other players to be selling their products at the centre or even close by. The convention centre is isolated and far from shops and other outlets. Delegates fear that is they go out they will lose out on negotiations and miss important meeting as shuttle buses only travel 30 minutes off pick and 20 minutes during pick hours.

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