Famine

widespread scarcity of food followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality

A famine is a widespread scarcity of food caused by several possible factors, including, but not limited to war, natural disasters, crop failure, widespread poverty, an economic catastrophe or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. During the 19th and 20th century, Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe, suffered the greatest number of fatalities. Deaths caused by famine declined sharply beginning in the 1970s, with numbers falling further since 2000. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent in the world by famine.

Quotes

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  • Beasley pointed toward Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the two richest people in the world, who could each individually help those in these situations with a small chunk of their overall change. Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has a net worth of $151 billion, according to Forbes, with his wealth increasing by more than 500% from January 2020 to March this year. Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Bezos has a net worth of $177 billion. And their net worth is still growing. The week of October 11, Musk's net wealth increased by $12.7 billion due to Tesla stock gains, according to Forbes, and in just one day, on October 15, Bezos' generated $5.6 billion from Amazon stock. When news broke that Musk may have beat Bezos for the richest person title, he tweeted at Bezos a silver second place medal emoji. Meanwhile, Beasley told CNN that millions of others are in a "heartbreaking" situation as they're "knocking on famine's door."
  • Predictably, the consequence of the [Soviet Union's] systematic annihilation of any farmer suspected of being a kulak was not economic growth but one of the greatest man-made famines in history. As Party functionaries descended on the countryside with orders to abolish private property and 'liquidate' anyone who had accumulated more than the average amount of capital, there was chaos. Who exactly was a kulak?Those who had been better-off before the Revolution or those who had done well since? What exactly did it mean to 'exploit' other peasants? Lending them money when they were short of cash? Rather than see their cattle and pigs confiscated, many peasants preferred to slaughter and eat them, so that by 1935 total Soviet livestock was reduced to half of its 1929 level. But the brief orgy of eating was followed by a protracted, agonizing starvation. Without animal fertilizers, crop yields plummeted - grain output in 1932 was down by a fifth compared with 1930. Grain seizures to feed Russia's cities left entire villages with literally nothing to eat. Starving people ate cats, dogs, field mice, birds, tree bark and even horse manure. Some went into the fields and ate half-ripe ears of corn. There were even cases of cannibalism. As in 1920-21, typhus followed hard on the heels of dearth.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 201

 

  • Afghanistan is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The Food and Agricultural Organization said that 18.8 million Afghans are unable to feed themselves every day. This number is set to rise to nearly 23 million by the end of the year. Nearly nine million people are close to starvation. At least one million children under five with severe acute malnutrition and 2.2 million children under five with moderate acute malnutrition need malnutrition treatment services. However, starvation is not the only issue faced by children. As UNICEF warns “Afghanistan was already one of the toughest places on earth to be a child. Right now, the situation is desperate.” The situation deteriorates quickly as the country is on a brink of famine.
    Recent weeks have seen yet another trend: families selling their children, and mostly girls, so that families could buy food. In one of reported cases, a six-year-old girl and 18-month-old toddler were sold for $3,350 and $2,800 respectively. In another reporting, a 9-year-old girl was sold for about $2,200 in the form of sheep, land and cash. There are many more such stories.
  • Is the proxy war in Ukraine turning out to be only a lead-up to something larger, involving world famine and a foreign-exchange crisis for food- and oil-deficit countries?
    U.S. Cold War strategy is not alone in thinking how to benefit from provoking a famine, oil and balance-of-payments crisis. Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum worries that the world is overpopulated – at least with the “wrong kind” of people. As Microsoft philanthropist... Bill Gates has explained: “Population growth in Africa is a challenge.” His lobbying foundation’s 2018 “Goalkeepers” report warned: “According to U.N. data, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050. Its population is projected to double by 2050,” with “more than 40 percent of world’s extremely poor people … in just two countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.” Gates advocates cutting this projected population increase by 30 percent by improving access to birth control and expanding education to “enable more girls and women to stay in school longer, have children later.” But how can that be afforded with this summer’s looming food and oil squeeze on government budgets?
  • Although the famine in Kalahandi was a moderate natural disaster, the starvation deaths were a completely avoidable man-made disaster.
  • Wealthy elites tend to think it’s a question of management strategies and transparent accounting – that surely the administrators of charities must be wasting money instead of running a lean and brutally efficient private sector industry. So, yes, the global aid sector... is broken because it has to pander to billionaire donors like Musk, while boardrooms of mostly Western white men make decisions based solely on the preferences of their billionaire donors... If he were truly interested in helping, he would reflect on hunger as a health equity issue. For example, why does hunger disproportionately affect women and girls? For example, why does hunger disproportionately affect women and girls? Why are lower-income countries hit hardest by famine?..
    In 2019, an estimated 650 million people were undernourished worldwide. As a result of the pandemic, that surged to 811 million, or about one in every nine people... approximately 60 percent are women and girls. Unequal access to opportunities in education and careers, lower wages, laws that favour men, and cultural traditions are all contributing factors.... At its core, hunger is a health equity problem. Solutions won’t be found in the form of a cheque for $6 billion. They’ll require structural change and a multilateral approach.
  • In October, David Beasley, head of the U.N. food agency, tweeted a cheeky congratulations to Musk for reportedly earning $36 billion in a single day. "1/6 of your one-day increase would save 42 million lives that are knocking on famine's door," he wrote... Musk tweeted: "If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it." ...Beasley quickly clarified that his earlier tweet referred to feeding "people on the brink of starvation" and not solving world hunger, he invited Musk to meet "anywhere—Earth or space" to discuss the potential donation. So far, Musk has made no commitments to the agency. Still... How much of a dent would $6 billion make when it comes to feeding millions? ...WFP raised $8.4 billion last year, yet the global food crisis has only worsened. In fact, since Musk and Beasley first started their Twitter conversation, the total number of people at risk of famine has risen to 45 million... In response to Musk's request for details, Beasley tweeted him the math: "$.43 x 42,000,000 x 365 days = $6.6 billion." That's how much it would cost to provide one meal a day for one year to this population in need...The food aid, says WFP, consists of commodities such as rice, maize and high-energy biscuits...
    Elon Musk asked Twitter followers if he should sell Tesla shares. They said yes.
  • Climate change could further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition at low latitudes, especially in seasonally dry and tropical regions, where crop productivity is projected to decrease for even small local temperature increases (1–2 °C). By 2020, in some African countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries is projected to be severely compromised. The health status of millions of people is projected to be affected through, for example, increases in malnutrition; increased deaths, diseases, and injury due to extreme weather events; increased burden of diarrhoeal diseases; increased frequency of cardio-respiratory diseases due to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone in urban areas related to climate change; and the altered spatial distribution of some infectious diseases.
  • The failures of Communist economic policy had the most tragic consequences in agriculture, the basis of the economy of nearly all countries subjected to Communist rule. The confiscation of private property in land and the collectivization that ensued disrupted traditional rural routines, causing famines of unprecedented dimensions. This happened in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, and North Korea; in each country millions died from man-made starvation. In Communist North Korea as late as the 1990s, a large proportion of children suffered from physical disabilities caused by malnutrition; in the second half of the 1990s up to 2 million people are estimated to have died of starvation there. Its infant mortality rate is 88 per 1,000 live births, compared to South Korea’s 8, and the life expectancy for males 48.9 years, compared to South Korea’s 70.4. The GDP per capita in the north is $900; in the south, $13,700.
  • Most geopolitical analysts can agree that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has detrimentally impacted the global economy. This is especially true when it comes to food security, with supplies disrupted, prices skyrocketing, and shortages created that run the risk of causing famine. The US and European Union have accused Russia of “weaponizing food” by cutting off Ukrainian grain and Russian fertilizer from global markets. Russia, in turn, blames the food supply crisis totally on Western sanctions... A report prepared by the Global Network Against Food Crises, an international alliance working to address the root causes of extreme hunger, which acts under the auspices of the World Food Program, shows that in 2021 global levels of hunger surpassed all previous records — with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries and territories. This represents an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with 2020. According to the report, the outlook for 2022 is for further deterioration of global hunger levels, exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which is having severe repercussions on global food, energy and fertilizer prices... the geopolitics of famine is such that millions of lives are held hostage to conflicts far from the nations most in need. Hopefully, the US, Russia and the UN will be able to reach an equitable balance before it is too late.
  • UN Human Rights Council has appealed to increase humanitarian support to 3.5 million people including 700,000 from 2021 alone who were displaced due to the conflict in Afghanistan, the United Nations body said in a statement. Spokesperson of UNHCR... said... that around 23 million people, or 55 per cent of the population, are facing extreme levels of hunger - nearly nine million of whom are at risk of famine. UNHCR has assisted some 700,000 displaced people across the country in 2021, the majority since mid-August. Every week, the agency is helping nearly 60,000 people, according to the statement. "But as we reach thousands of people, we find thousands more people who are in need of humanitarian assistance", Baloch said, appealing for "further resources for the most vulnerable". He noted that "single mothers with no shelter or food for their children", displaced older persons left to care for orphaned grandchildren, and people taking care of loved ones with special needs.

See also

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