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Showing posts with the label famine

Why hunger and famine?

" As a member of Oxfam's humanitarian support team, I can be deployed globally at short notice. My job is to provide short-term leadership or support in emergencies or humanitarian situations. From last October, I have been based in West Africa as the senior humanitarian adviser for the Sahel region - Mauritania, Mali and Niger...The food crisis was widely perceived in the media to relate to food shortages which then caused widespread hunger and malnutrition...Although this played an important role at a local level, it wasn't the main cause as the following example illustrates. During the crisis, Niger was still exporting food and staple cereals were available in the markets. The problem, however, was the poorest and most vulnerable people hadn't produced enough grain to survive and couldn't afford to buy it in the markets. Once people run out of money they turn to "coping strategies", for instance getting into debt or selling off their assets including …

Profits or People

During the Irish potato famine of 1845 to 1848, the worst year is known as Black '47, when 400,000 people died of starvation and disease. During that time, vast quantities of food continued to leave the country's shores. 4,000 ships carrying grain and livestock sailed from Ireland to the ports of Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow in 1847, according to Dr Christine Kinealy, a fellow at the University of Liverpool.

"I know all the difficulties that arise when you begin to interfere with trade," wrote the Irish Lord Lieutenant at the time, Lord Bessborough, who pleaded unsuccessfully for help from the government in London. "But it is difficult to persuade a starving population that one class should be permitted to make 50pc profit by the sale of provisions whilst they are dying for want of these."

In the world today, just as in Black '47, when wagon-loads of food were exported under guard by the army, there is enough capacity to feed everyone that is in need…

Food Shortages - "it's capitalism" - says a capitalist

We have reported on the rise in food prices that many commentators blame on changes in supply and demand for grain but the Times reports that the managing director of Greggs, the well known high street baker-shop chain , has attacked speculators for driving up the price of wheat and fuelling famine in Africa.

Michael Darrington said commodity traders were more to blame for spiralling food price inflation than poor harvests or farmland given over to biofuels.

“There are stocks of wheat and grain in the world, and crops are growing at the moment but funds are being set up as speculators see an opportunity to make some short-term money and someone has to pay for it. It's really sad for people in the developing world where food can account for 70 per cent of the family budget. Wheat is predominantly grown in America, Australia, Europe - the wealthier areas - and people in under-developed nations are hurting the most.” He added I suppose that's just capitalism but it's jolly …

Food for Thought

From the Independent , the newspaper thats rapidly acquiring the reputation for doom and gloom , another story of impending catastrophe . The era of cheap food is coming to an end .

In the UK food prices are now rising at 6 per cent a year, twice as quickly as the general cost of living . In India the overall food price index is 10 per cent higher than last year. In China, prices are up 20 per cent for some staples. A similar inflationary trend can be seen in America.

Earlier this month, wheat prices reached their highest level in 10 years. Maize prices have doubled over the past year. Rice prices are rising too. Rice prices are climbing worldwide. Butter prices in Europe have spiked by 40 per cent in the past year. Global soybean prices have risen by a half. The food price index in India was up by 11 per cent year on year. In Mexico there have been riots in response to a 60 per cent rise in the cost of tortillas. The price of cereals in this country has jumped by 12 per cent in the pas…

Food Aid Fails

From Time magazine , how the feel good factor in charity does very little to ameliorate famine .

Food aid feels good. Last year United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) coordinated emergency food aid for 73 million people worldwide, with the U.S. contributing 60% of that total.

"There's no question that food aid saves millions of lives,"

YET

"...we're concerned that it's being asked to do too much, too inefficiently, and that by over-relying on food aid we ignore other solutions that could be more effective."

A January report by the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) put the question bluntly: Can food aid do more harm than good?


One-third of food-aid budgets never reaches the intended recipients and is instead swallowed up by costs in donor countries, according to the OECD. Only 15% of donated food is sourced locally . When food finally arrives — often too late to feed those most vulnerable — the influx of foreign products wreak havoc on t…