Food Aid and Famine Essay

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Food Aid and Famine

The opening paragraph of a report written in 1999 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) made for grim reading:

"Almost 800 million people in the developing world do not have enough to eat. Another 34 million people in the industrialized countries and countries in transition also suffer from chronic food insecurity"

It is apparent that globally there is a serious problem with providing enough food to eat to everyone that requires it.

Fig 1 -----

The pie chart above shows the extent of the global under-nourishment problems - and shows that 525 Million under-nourished persons are accounted for in Asia (China, India, "Other
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Recent studies have suggested that the notion that famine means a total food shortage, can be challenged as it appears that famine only affects certain socio-economic groups, those commonly being poorest, least skilled, and the unemployed. During worst times of famine, it has been known for some food to be available at local market, but demand is as such that the prices soon go beyond the reach of the majority. Famine would therefore be a decline in the ease of access to food, rather than a decline in the available food supply.

Causes of famine can be varied, from natural disasters; earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding, and drought, to socio-economic factors such as poor access to farmland of sufficient nutritional value to yield a good crop, since such farmland will be highly valued, and accessible to the more affluent, relatively speaking, of the population, leaving those less affluent struggling, able to claim the less nutritionally abundant farmland. The problems of inequity can often be further exacerbated by internal conflict and war which can dislocate rural and farming communities.

These causes could have a flip side though; flooding will obviously destroy what crops, (if any) were in the flooded region, however its positive effects can be that it provides silt and nutrients for the soils which if managed well, could be advantageously used to stock for years to

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