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Autor: people • January 30, 2012 • Research Paper • 1,964 Words (8 Pages) • 447 Views
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Food Aid and Famine
The opening paragraph of a report written in 1999 by the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) made for
"Almost 800 million people in the developing world do not have enough
to eat. Another 34 million people in the industrialized countries and
countries in transition also suffer from chronic food insecurity"
It is apparent that globally there is a serious problem with providing
enough food to eat to everyone that requires it.
The pie chart above shows the extent of the global under-nourishment
problems - and shows that 525 Million under-nourished persons are
accounted for in Asia (China, India, "Other Asia & Pacific").
This report will, by its conclusion, have studied whether 'Food aid is
(never) the answer to famine' or not. In order for this conclusion to
be firmly established, it is required that a definition for what a
famine is, and what it's causes are, is brought to the fore.
Moving on from this, we will need to investigate areas in which famine
is a regular, or even seemingly constant occurrence, where food aid
has been offered to solve the problems, and look at it's subsequent
effects, both positive and negative.
After looking at the effects of food aid provision, a look at
alternatives that have been suggested by groups such as the FAO, the
World Food Programme (WFP), and the charitable, non-government
organizations (NGOs) like Oxfam.
The conclusion I expect will, after considering the evidence
presented, show that food aid is a short term solution for some, but
will never satisfy all of the needy - and that other, long term
schemes are required in an effort to start offering food security to
Recent studies have suggested that the notion that famine means a
total food shortage, can be challenged as it appears that famine only
affects certain socio-economic groups, those commonly being poorest,
least skilled, and the unemployed. During worst times of famine, it
has been known for some food to be available at local market, but
demand is as such that the prices soon go beyond the reach of the
majority. Famine would therefore be a decline in the ease of access to
food, rather than a decline in the available food supply.
Causes of famine can be varied, from natural disasters; earthquakes,
volcanoes, flooding, and drought, to socio-economic factors such as
poor access to farmland of sufficient nutritional value to yield a
good crop, since such farmland will be highly valued, and accessible
to the more affluent, relatively speaking, of the population, leaving
those less affluent struggling, able to claim the less nutritionally
abundant farmland. The problems of inequity can often be further
exacerbated by internal conflict and war which can dislocate rural and
These causes could have a flip side though; flooding will obviously
destroy what crops, (if any) were in the flooded region, however its
positive effects can be that it provides silt and nutrients for the
soils which if managed well, could be advantageously used to stock for
years to come.
It was floods that led to major problems in Bangladesh, where 2 months
of flooding nationwide, which started in June 1998, left 900 million
either homeless or stranded , and resulted in an outbreak of disease
due to stagnant water. Once the waters had receded however the UN were
warning that loss of two of Bangladesh's three crops, in the floods,
would leave up to around 20 million hungry.
A ship from the World Food Program carried 50,000 Tonnes of wheat,
once the region was accessible, to assist in the $223 million worth of
aid the UN had assigned.
Floods however seem to be an annual event in Bangladesh, and no matter
how much food aid is requested year on year, to deal with the
immediate humanitarian disaster, there appears to be no preparation or
strategy on how to prevent a thorough "wash-out" of the crops.
Figure 2 (below) shows that Bangladesh rely on four vital factors in
order for famine not to hit their nation, should any one of these
'bonds', as they have been called by theorist Amartya Sen, be broken