What Are the Causes of Famine? Essay

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Sociology

Causes of Famine

In spite of the enormous technological advances in the last 50 years, famine is still an element of everyday life in many poorer regions, mainly developing or third world countries. In principle, a famine is an incident in which a large percentage of the populations of a region or country are hungry and death by starvation becomes increasingly widespread (Famine, 2006).

Famine is known to be caused by a variety of things such as:

Natural disasters such as floods, drought, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Over inhabited areas that are not capable of feeding their masses of people.

Poor quality of health facilities.

No aid from other countries.

Governments that manage their resources poorly (Famine, n.d.).

Famine just doesn't happen; there is always a cause behind it. Some of these causes are apparent, like war, a drought or flooding. Not very often, if ever is there only one single cause of a food emergency. Famines are regularly known as complex emergencies, because they have many causes and consequences. One way that these disasters can be looked at is in terms of a main cause, such as politics, war or drought. Secondary or resulting causes include consequences, such as migration, that are themselves a result of the main causes. Drought is one thing that often causes people to move or migrate to other areas, which can then cause food shortages and conflict in the places that they move to (FitzGibbon and Hennessy, 2003).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on What Are the Causes of Famine? Assignment

The major reasons for famine include poverty, trade barriers, corruption, mismanagement, ethnic rivalries, anarchy, war, and male-dominated civilizations that deny women of food. Local land reduction, itself a result of poverty and institutional failure, is also an issue. Those who do not have the money to use sound farming practices are required to damage the resources on which they are so dependant. The problem of famine is diverse. Once a famine has attained the proportions of a major calamity, it is too late to raise a fast and efficient relief operation. Supplies rushed to a country often get detained up at the country's ports, unable to be dispersed by the accessible infrastructure. Governmental organizations which distribute relief aid are not set up to react quickly or effectively, and volunteer agencies are quicker to react are neither intended nor prepared to cope with starving masses. Information shortages continue to exist. Even though there are many statistics on crop failures or droughts, the study of more finely-tuned data such as the movements of local prices or mass migrations of people from their homes, is still in its formative years. Attention must be given to the governmental quirks, and to partiality of the donor countries. Sometimes no action may be assumed before an invitation is extensive. The governments of suffering countries may be ignorant of or unconcerned with a rural famine. They often are unable to gather, the necessary technical case for aid. They may be unwilling to broadcast their problems to the world and they may be aggressive to western interference (Famine, Starvation, 2010).

Equally important are the problems confronting possible solutions. Deliberate provisions are needed in the countries that are usually the most unlikely to be able to pay for such reserves. This makes them prey to thievery and spoilage. Too much developmental aid put into an area can be impossible to take in and can make farmers reliant upon such aid rather than their own assets. Aid programs are often attached to restrictions and priorities that are either unfeasible or ineffective to achieve (Famine, Starvation, 2010).

Famine has been extensive in Africa during modern times. Many African countries are not independent when it comes to food production. They rely on income from cash crops in order to import food. Farming in Africa is very susceptible to climate fluctuations, especially droughts which can diminish the amount of food that is locally grown. Other agricultural troubles include soil infertility, land poverty and erosion, and hordes of desert locusts which can destroy whole crops and livestock diseases. There are other things that make the food security situation in Africa shaky, including political instability, armed conflict and civil war, corruption and mismanagement of food supplies along with trade policies that damage African agriculture. AIDS also has a long-term economic effect on agriculture because it reduces the number of available workers (Famine, 2006).

The African continent during the 1980's experienced famines on a scale never before seen. As of 1985, 10 million people had deserted their normal homes in search of food and water. Twenty countries had been seriously affected by drought and 35 million lives were in peril (Famine, Starvation, 2010). According to estimations by the UN's World Food Program (WFP), there are as many as 38 million Africans who live in danger of starvation. It is thought that many will succumb if emergency assistance does not reach them in time (Harsch, 2003).

Famine is not just a state of lack of food but is more a matter of insufficient planning, not enough notification, slow reaction, government pride, misdirected aid, uncoordinated relief agency field work, politics, sluggish bureaucracy, ignorance, and lack of ability. It is a serious problem which shakes the whole political, economic, and social foundations on which the constant and prosperous future for developing countries has been built. Population growth, poverty and poverty of local resources often stimulate one another. The quantity of food in world trade is controlled less by the resource base than by the uneven distribution of wealth (Famine, Starvation, 2010).

In Kenya there are some areas which are all the time hard hit by famine. The North Eastern province is one of these areas. Every year this part of Kenya experiences major food issues in regards to people and animals. The Eastern province is one more region of Kenya where famine is prevalent. It also occurs every year. The Coast and some parts of Rift Valley provinces are among the places where famine is known to take place. The major economic movement of people who experience famine is farming. In the North Eastern province the majority of people who live there are nomads. They move around from place to place in search of green territory and water for their animals which they rely so heavily on. Throughout the dry spells, people in North Eastern, Eastern, Coast and some parts of Rift Valley provinces are constantly the first to go hungry for days if not months on end. As a consequence of inadequate rainfall, plants and their crops end up dying. Water from other sources is also a dilemma. Rivers are very many miles away from their dwellings (Wang'ang'a, 2010).

Famine is not just about the total quantity of food that is accessible in relation to the total number of people who need it. It is more complicated than just that. People's access to food, just like with anything else, is not free. It depends on a number of economic, social and legal factors that define its position in society. In a developed capitalist country the ability to get food depends almost entirely on having money. People get this money in a number of different ways. They get it from holding property, selling services, selling mental or physical energies and from the state. When people get money it gives them a claim on food, to include a quantity and quality that is directly related to the amount of money that they have. This claim is basically a goods claim in that the exchange of money for food is a transaction that involves an exchange of equal values (What Causes Famines, n.d.).

In undeveloped countries the circumstances are almost the same, except that a class that has virtually gone away in the developed countries has a much greater presence in the undeveloped countries. These are the people who directly work the land. These people can have access to food without needing money because they can consume part of what they grow. They are thought to be permitted to the food because they own or have rented the land on which it is grown. There are also more people in the undeveloped countries whose entitlement comes from the money attained from trading or selling some service rather than from the sale of their labor (What Causes Famines, n.d.).

Almost 40% of the world's farming land is seriously ruined. In Africa, if the current tendency of soil degradation continues it is thought that they might be able to feed just 25% of their population by 2025, according to UNU's Ghana-based Institute for Natural Resources in Africa. In 2007 there was an increase in farming for use in biofuels, along with world oil prices being very low, which has driven up the price of grain that is being used to feed poultry and dairy cows. This in turn has caused higher prices of wheat which is up 58%, soybeans which are up 32%, and maize which is up 11% (Food Shortage: Causes of Famine, 2010).

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