Somalian Famine

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  • Topic: Famine, Somalia, Drought
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  • Published : December 16, 2012
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SOMALIAN FAMINE 2011

“There is no such thing as an apolitical food problem”, Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winning Economist. Discuss this statement.

The question of the Somalian Famine has been a subject of regular debate and discussion since July 2011, when the UN first declared an official famine in two specific regions of Somalia. The worst environmental conditions East Africa has experienced in many years, combined with other social and political problems, produced the “worst humanitarian disaster” the world has suffered in several decades, according to the UN. In relation to this topic, Amartya Sen, a renowned economist, commented – “There is no such thing as an apolitical problem”. Sen perfectly defines one of the most important aspects of this issue, saying that such a food problem does not exist in which political factors do not play a vital part. Similarly, environmental and social factors too, are crucial to the causes and mediums of a food problem, in this case the Famine and its rapid spread throughout a country.

From statistics and expert evaluations, it is evident that environmental factors play an important role in this particular case of Famine. Last year, the Horn of Africa, of which Somalia is part, was reported to have experienced the most severe drought in six decades. Normally, Somalia experiences two different monsoon seasons, one in spring/ summer, and the other (usually heavier) one in autumn – this pattern had been quite predictable up until 2011, when the latter monsoon season did not occur in Southern Somalia, an area which is agriculturally vital to the country. This is shown in the following chart:

This extreme environmental condition meant that there was a major lack of water supply to farms and crop-growing areas, which led to a rapid decline in harvest and yield for the year. This eventually caused an imbalance in the demand/ supply ratio of food in Somalian regions, therefore leaving large groups of people, especially...
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