Perfectly illustrates Amartya Sen’s argument (see this 1998 Time article) that famine is a distribution problem, not a supply problem. And that there are no famines in democracies, whatever else their limitations (see this 2003 New York Times article).
Also interesting that Somaliland—the unrecognized secessionist region that has been a de facto independent state for two decades (see this 2010 Christian Science Monitor article)—seems to even do a better job of food security than Ethiopia, the regional power.
Somali famine spreads to three more areas, says UN
Definition of Famine
- More than 30% of children must be suffering from acute malnutrition
- Two adults or four children must be dying of hunger each day for every group of 10,000 people
- The population must have access to far below 2,100 kilocalories of food per day (source)
I like this from Ed Carr (Via Daily Dish):
Famine stops at the Somali border. I assure you this is not a political manipulation of the data – it is the data we have. Basically, the people without a functional state and collapsing markets are being hit much harder than their counterparts in Ethiopia and Kenya, even though everyone is affected by the same bad rains, and the livelihoods of those in Somalia are not all that different than those across the borders in Ethiopia and Kenya.
A food “emergency” and food “crisis” sound like terrible things to experience but it says something about the importance of functional governance that “famine” stops at the border’s edge.
Drought might be the proximate cause of the crisis. Politics is at the root. Afterall, there are plenty of dry places in the world where drought conditions are not synonymous with starvation, with investment in irrigation, government relief efforts, and access to global markets making the difference.