Ending famine in Africa

Famine kills because of neglect, not because it’s an inevitable natural disaster.

Famine can become an all-encompassing problem that kills many and devastates the livelihood of societies by affecting crops, livestock, trade and business, or it could have little affect on people.

Some have likened the famine crisis in Africa to Katrina as an issue that could have been avoided. Famine has been a problem in Africa for a long time, but just as Cuba finds ways to protect its citizens from hurricanes while the U.S. loses many lives, the famine in Africa presents a failure on behalf of sociopolitical issues and not exclusively an issue of drought.

Institutions like the World Bank contribute to the issue of famine through structural adjustment programs that cause poverty. Poorer, debtor countries are forced to prioritize repayment of debt over securing the livelihood of people. Famine is able to kill the poor who are pushed to live in dry lands without sustenance.

Half the cost of food aid is spent on transportation, storage and administrative costs. A good chunk of the cost easily could be eliminated if food were purchased from regions within the continent instead of shipping resources over. But wealthy countries think in terms of accumulation – they would rather tunnel money back into wealthy entities. Shipping companies make a ridiculous amount of money sending the food that was purchased from corporate giants.

It is surprising how student groups on campus can quickly organize when they learn of such events. Already the Somali Student Association is planning benefits dedicated to famine in Africa. Smaller groups are able to do more. The role of nongovernmental organizations and smaller entities has been significant in Africa. In fact, governments should seek the help of these organizations and private companies knowing they will respond quickly.

Emphasis must focus on how global blocs like the United Nations can become more efficient, and also these disasters could be dealt with in a manner that minimizes human suffering. Droughts should not starve so many. Food is available everywhere, but the issue of famine is rooted in distribution.