Water Scarcity And Famine Case Study

1351 Words 6 Pages
Critically examine the relationship between ‘water scarcity’ and famines.
Famine occurs when numbers of people die rapidly as they have not had enough food to eat. Some people die from ‘actual starvation – acute wasting – and others die from diseases that attack them in their wasted state’ (Paarlberg 2010: 46). Contrastingly, it is ‘not the characteristic of there being not enough food to eat’ (Sen 1981: 1). One way that famine occurs is by the ‘structure of ownership’ (ibid.). This relates to access and supply of food, because, evidence states that current agricultural land use only represents thirty-six percent of the land estimated to be suitable for crop production (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2003).
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Water scarcity will be intensified by ‘anthropogenic increases in air temperature and evaporation’ (Parry et al. 2007) and this will prevent further crop production. For instance, in Eastern Africa cereal production per capita will decrease by over a third from 2007 to 2030. This will pose a serious issue because cereal crops are the staple food source in the region (Funk and Brown 2009). At present, there is already tremendous levels of demand for water supplies in Asia and Africa, nevertheless, there will be further demands on the already scarce water supplies because of increased global temperatures and rapid population growth (ibid.). The food supply in these areas will become insecure. This may lead to chronic hunger and in the most serious cases, famine. Famine will occur in these regions due to two important variables - ‘ownership’ and ‘exchange entitlement mapping’ (Sen 1981: 4). Exchange entitlement mapping refers to a rise in food prices that will be unaffordable to some, therefore, these individuals will starve and suffer from famine. This proves that there is a direct relationship between water scarcity and famine because depleted water supplies will lead to a serious reduction in food produced. However, there are solutions to the issue of food insecurity, such as, the continued increase in chronic food aid and an adequate distribution of food …show more content…
Ukraine experienced a man-made famine in 1932-1933. The famine occurred when Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union at the time, took food and land away from private farmers in his attempt to communise Ukrainian society. The farmers Stalin took from were seen as ‘capitalist’ enemies of the ‘Proletariat’ (Paarlberg 2010). This famine was caused only by Stalin’s political background and his attempt of a forced government takeover. Farmers who did not follow Stalin’s orders were imprisoned or killed. This caused production rates to dramatically decrease as the State continued seizing grain from farmers and at least six million people starved (ibid.). The situation is depicted as a terror-famine because it was seen to be an intentional campaign by the Soviet Union to starve politically disloyal Ukrainians (Conquest 1986). Furthermore, the Great Chinese Famine from 1959-1961 was also driven by political ideology. In this instance, Mao Zedong decided to organise the entirety of Chinese society based on a system of people’s communes. This was necessary to achieve a ‘Great-Leap Forward’. The ownership of land and the control over food production were removed by the government. This led to the collapse of grain production and around thirty million people suffered. Though, it is argued that Zedong did not intend to cause suffering, he accepted it in order to revolutionise Chinese society (Chang and Halliday 2005).

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