Famine, Relief, & Food Security Essay Sample
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Food, People, Money, Business, Poverty, Bachelor's Degree, Social Issues, Africa
Famines are a serious problem that can be detrimental to those living in the affected societies. This often has a harsh negative impact on nearly every aspect of individual lives, as well as cultures. While only certain parts of the world are faced with this misfortune, it is a severe problem that needs to be addressed by everyone, so that proper actions can be taken to solve it. When many people think of famines, the first thing that comes to mind is the people who are starving from the lack of food. It is often believed that the reason for this is from natural problems such as droughts and bad weather. However, other damaged areas of these societies can be overlooked, such as governmental, economic, and a variety of additional issues not related to the environment. For example, it has been argued that some famines are the result of particular people not being able to obtain food because of problems with rights, rules, and purchasing powers (Shipton, 1990). It can be extremely difficult for those living in these areas to escape, due to their complications with extreme poverty because of a lack of necessary resources.
Unfortunately for those researching this topic for better data, there are difficulties with survey ethics and etiquette, restricted travel, and informants disappearing (Shipton, 1990). The restricted travel times help to demonstrate that not only are these areas dangerous for humans to be in at particular times, but there are actually people who must be accustomed to constantly remaining under these harsh circumstances.
Famines will not affect every individual exactly the same way, and the times may vary, as well. For example, there are simply some people who physically need more food than others. Similar to this, those who have a limited amount of food are more likely to become ill or have a variety of health problems. Famines are considered to be a time in which there is “severe shortage or inaccessibility of appropriate food (including water), along with related threats to survival, affecting major parts of a population” (Shipton, 1990, p. 358). Famines can have many impacts even after they appear to have improved. For example, there may be imbalanced livestock populations and milk shortages (Shipton, 1990).
Some of the worst famines in Africa were from 1972 to 1973, and 1984 to 1985 in areas of the Sudan zone from Senegal to Somalia, as well as other areas in the south (Shipton, 1990). Ethiopia is one of the countries in the world most commonly associated with famine and poverty. In the 1980’s there was a famine that many people were aware of, yet, this country is “the recipient per capita of virtually the least foreign investment and long-term development aid” (Pankhurst, 1986, p. 4). This is partially a result from aid that has been decreased as a result of the Cold War. Many Western countries that provide Ethiopia with ninety percent of its financial assistance have stopped doing so because of their military dependence on the Soviet Union (Pankhurst, 1986). In addition to receiving help from the government, there is charity available in much of Africa in the forms of personal, familial, and local (Shipton, 1990).
Fighting and wars are other devastations that can arise from famines. If it is assumed that there is a possibility of acquiring food, or if it is believed that food was stolen by others, violence can emerge. When people have food they have power, so when there is no food, there is no power. This leads to problems with poverty which can be both short and long term and can occur unexpectedly from combinations of happenings (Shipton, 1990). During famines, people can decide to ally with different groups because those they are with at the moment do not seem to be a good group to belong to. These groups might include the community or nation-state (Shipton, 1990).
The amount of resources in Africa able to be used for farming is limited, which means that they need to be used wisely. It is believed that pastoralists are good ecologists and therefore, they should help food production matters (Shipton, 1990). The types of crops that are grown also need to be monitored. Long-term damage to the environment should be discussed when beginning to farm a new area. Not all crops are used for food, such as in cash cropping with tobacco. When this happens, all of the possible results need to be assessed to determine if this is a good idea. Research on the outcomes of this cash cropping on the nutrition of children and their caloric intake has revealed that these effects are rather small, but there are other factors that also need to be researched (Shipton, 1990). These variables include the difference between the economies of the area where the study was done (which was well-developed) and the rest of the continent, who in the families are selling the crops, and how much of this money is given to other members of the family (Shipton, 1990).
There has also been an increase in cultural-agronomic causes on food production. It is argued that there has not been an acceptable division of labor to be productive in a range of the numerous systems needed to get the best use of the products created. The cash that goes into making these foods, as well as money that could be generated from possible sales, must also be supervised and monitored closely. When money is made from selling products and extra food is able to be purchased, or when extra food is produced, it is important to keep this food edible. Better options for food storage are important. If there is emergency food available, there needs to be a place for it where it will be able to be put away for long periods of time and can stay edible. When transporting food, the methods used should safeguard it to ensure that it is eatable when it arrives at its final destination. Everyone handling the food should also be well-trained to ensure that it is prepared in ways that keep its nutritional values as high as possible. Food also needs to be clean, free of harmful germs and bacteria that can lead to illness. Food is useless if it is spoiled or not clean. In times of famine, it is imperative to obtain the most amount of food possible, while wasting the smallest amount.
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