When I was in Mozambique in January, they were blocking streets with burning tires and over-turned cars to protest an increase of a few pennies in the 28-cent cost of a bus ride. One person was killed and scores were injured in clashes with policies, and there was also moderate property damage and disruption.
But you might not have noticed. The incidents, though tied to the global issue of rising oil prices, got scant notice in the world's press.
More recently, the riots, protests and general unrest have been triggered by food prices — also tied to global energy prices. And they're not just in Mozambique. Incidents of varying degrees of seriousness — from fairly peaceable to dozens killed — have taken place in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, the Philippines, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. In other words, in every region of the world where masses of people live hand-to-mouth.
The small silver lining in this cloud is that, this time at least it's getting the world's attention. Search Google News for "food riots" and you'll get well over 5,000 hits — not much compared to, say, the U.S. election, or even something as inane as "Hollywood stars," but a lot for an international development story. The World Bank and IMF are voicing stern warnings about the time-bombs that are near-certain to explode if the problem isn't dealt with, and donor countries and agencies are starting to marshal significant responses.