Where have conditions deteriorated most during the course of 2005? There are plenty of contenders - Western Sudan, maybe? - but the situation was appalling a year ago; the scandal is that there's been absolutely no improvement. North Korea, perhaps, but again we're starting from a low, and we don't have enough information about conditions in the countryside, where famine may or may not be threatening. Overall, though, it would be hard to beat Zimbabwe:
The cost of buying groceries in Zimbabwe increased almost 10-fold in 2005, according to the country's independent Consumer Council.
Its report found that the price of a loaf of bread rose by 1,157% throughout the year to 44,000 Zimbabwean dollars (55 US cents; 32p). Milk rose 1,718%.
The runaway prices have caused living standards to plummet, especially since unemployment has risen to 80%.
The Zimbabwean government's own figures put the inflation rate at 502%.
Yet this figure is calculated on a broader selection of goods and services, some items of which have recorded smaller price hikes than essential food products. [...]
The Consumer Council's end-of-year report said 2005 had been an "agonising" year for Zimbabwean consumers.
Aid agencies estimate that 70% of Zimbabwe's 12 million population now survive on one meal or less a day, while the UN World Food Programme expects to feed some three million Zimbabweans next month.