Famine in Africa: Causes, Responses, and Prevention

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Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999 - Business & Economics - 219 pages
Though famine has affected many parts of the world in the twentieth century, the conditions that produce famine -- extreme poverty, armed conflict, economic and political turmoil, and climate shocks -- are now most prevalent in Africa. Researchers differ on how to address this problem effectively, but their arguments are often not informed by empirical analysis from a famine context. Broadening current theories and models of development for conquering famine, Famine in Africa grounds its findings in long-term empirical research, especially on the impact of famine on households and markets.

The authors present the results of field work and other research from numerous parts of Africa, with a particular focus on Botswana, Ethiopia, Niger, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. With these data, the authors explain the factors that cause famines and assess efforts to mitigate and prevent them. Famine in Africa is an important resource for international development specialists, students, and policymakers.

"A famine is a catastrophic disruption of the social, economic, and institutional systems that provide for food production, distribution, and consumption. For a long time famines have been considered anomalies -- crises that must be remedied by short-term relief activities so that the normal processes of development can be resumed... We now know differently. Famines can destroy not just life, but also the hope of development. They can make progress infinitely more difficult than it had been before. Relief operations alone, even if successful in terms of saving lives, are not a sound basis for a sustainable future. More -- much more -- is needed." -- from the Introduction

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Policy Failure Conflict and Famine
Production Failure and Climate Shocks

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About the author (1999)

Maximo Torero is a research fellow at IFPRI. Joachim von Braun is the director general of IFPRI.

Teklu received his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University. His research focuses on food demand estimation; famine prevention; and interactions between land, agricultural technology, and poverty.

Webb is on the faculty of Tufts University's School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned his Ph.D. in economic geography from the University of Birmingham, England. He spent several years as a polity analyst with the United Nations' World Food Programme in Rome and as a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute.

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