Tuesday, November 18, 2008


"One result of Ethiopia’s dreadful famine in 1984, when at least 1m people starved to death, was the invention of celebrity activism on behalf of the world’s most miserable. Band Aid, then Live Aid, then ever more sophisticated networking and the airing of films of starving children on television helped persuade rich countries’ governments to double aid to Africa as part of a wider set of promises to meet the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals laid out in 2000, the first of which is to “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” by 2015. Despite progress in setting up early-warning systems, better procurement methods and the rapid delivery of nutrition in the form of foil packets of plumpy nut, the Horn of Africa has remained a hunger zone. The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says the present drought is the worst there since 1984. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is usually slow to press the panic button, says it may be the tragedy of the decade. At least 17.5m people, the agencies reckon, may face starvation. The WFP is trying to feed 14m of them. High food prices, together with civil strife, the assassination of aid workers by jihadists, and piracy against food convoys sailing from Kenya to Somalia have combined with drought and desert to create a catastrophe. Some 12m of the hungry are in Ethiopia, 3m in Somalia, 2m in Kenya and Uganda, the rest in Eritrea and Djibouti." (Economist, 30 October)
This is typical of the futility of a policy of reformism, many well-intentioned people spend an enormous amount of energy and time in trying to patch up capitalism only to find that instead of a million starving to death they now have over 17 million threatened with the same fate. The only way to solve this awful problem is to abolish the system that produces it and bring about world socialism. RD

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