The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Famine Crisis Background

Posted by sarahnics on October 14, 2008

In June the UN Summit for the world food programme devised an emergency  plan to  end the world’s hunger.

Official figures at the time showed that 850 million people were already facing famine or malnutrition, with rising food and fuel prices threatening to push the figure over a billion. Pushing the risk of further riots and instability in affected areas.

The UN World Food Programme said it was releasing an additional $1.2 billion in food aid to help those in 60 of the most worst affected nations. With the United States pledging to commit $5 million to help fight world hunger.

However the first day of the summit was steeped in controversy with the presence of President  Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The country of Ethiopia has suffered its worst drought since the famine of 1984. Although Ethiopia is in the midst of its rainy season the land is bone dry, with the expected rain fall way below that of average.

For many, this means that they have lost the crops which enable them to survive, if people can even afford to buy the seeds to plant their crops. Many have lost their cattle and their very livelihood, leaving many with very limited options.

Many are left to starve or are eating anything they can get their hands on. Others are suffering from malnutrition, with entire families being threatened with disease. The only thing left to do, is for the west to help with food aid and to pray for rain.

‘Toxic Cocktail’
Other than the lack of rain and the inflation of food and petrol prices, the rebellion of the Somali region is disrupting the transportation of food. Diseases are running rampant in the area which is also contributing to the crisis. Creating what Oxfam calls a ’toxic cocktail.’

The scenes from the 1984 famine, where 1 million people died, and caused the world to stand up and take notice, will not happen again, according to aid workers. This is partly due to the structures put in place after the tragedy in 1984, so that another incident like that would never happen again.

However it can still be a crisis on a large scale if the world fails to pay enough attention to the issue. Underestimating how large a problem it is and how many people are affected. The world should not be slow to act on the problems in the Horn of Africa.

Sarah Nicholas (


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