A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, natural disasters, crop failure, population imbalance, 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...The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent in the world.
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- 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.
- Scott Ritter, The Geopolitics of Famine, Energy Intelligence Group, (14 November 2022)
- 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?
- While the precise number of deaths is sensitive to the assumptions we make about baseline mortality, it is clear that somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million people died prematurely at the height of British colonialism. This is among the largest policy-induced mortality crises in human history. It is larger than the combined number of deaths that occurred during all famines in the Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Mengistu’s Ethiopia.
- Jason Hickel and Dylan Sullivan, "How British colonialism killed 100 million Indians in 40 years" (2 December 2022), Al Jazeera
- Allow me to break down the facts of hunger as they stand right now. 811 million people are chronically hungry. 283 million are in hunger crises — they are marching toward starvation. And within that, 45 million in 43 countries across the globe are in hunger emergencies — in other words, famine is knocking on their door. Places like Afghanistan. Madagascar. Myanmar. Guatemala. Ethiopia. Sudan. South Sudan. Mozambique. Niger. Syria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Haiti and on and on and on. The world has often experienced famine. But when has it ever been so widespread, in so many places, at the same time? Why? Three reasons. First, man-made conflict. Dozens of civil wars and regional conflicts are raging, and hunger has been weaponized to achieve military and political objectives. Second, climate shocks /climate change. Floods, droughts, locusts and rapidly changing weather patterns have created severe crop failures around the world. Third, COVID-19. The viral pandemic has created a secondary hunger pandemic, which is far worse than the first. Shutdowns destroyed livelihoods. Shutdowns stopped the movement of food. Shutdowns inflated prices. The net result is the poor of the world are priced out of survival. The ripple effect of COVID has been devastating on the global economy. During the pandemic, $3.7 trillion in incomes — mostly among the poor — have been wiped out, while food prices are spiking. The cost of shipping food, for example, has increased 3 – 400%. But in places of conflict and low-income countries, it is even worse. For example, in Aleppo, Syria — a war zone, where I just returned from — food is now seven times more expensive than it was 2 years ago. The combined effect of these three — conflict, climate and COVID — has created an unprecedented perfect storm.
- 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.
- UNHRC calls for humanitarian aid for 3.5 million Afghans to avoid starvation, Times of India, ANI December 4, 2021
- 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.
- Afghan Girls Being Exchanged For Food As Famine Nears, Ewelina U. Ochab, Forbes November 25, 2021
- The issue of nearing famine in Afghanistan requires an urgent response. However, considering U.N. and unilateral sanctions in place, it is unlikely that this will change. In August, the Treasury Department issued general licenses allowing some actors to engage in transactions with the Taliban to allow for the provision of humanitarian assistance. However, the sanctions in place continue to cause hesitation and confusion among many donors. Governments and international organizations must work together to address this ever-growing man-made crisis. The people of Afghanistan cannot be left to starve. Afghan girls cannot be sacrificed.
- Afghan Girls Being Exchanged For Food As Famine Nears, Ewelina U. Ochab, Forbes November 25, 2021
- 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.
- How $6 billion from Elon Musk could feed millions on the brink of famine, Joanne Lu, NPR, November 11, 2021
- 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."
- The governments are tapped out. This is why and this is when ... the billionaires need to step up now on a one-time basis, $6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don't reach them. It's not complicated... I'm not asking them to do this every day, every week, every year... We have a one-time crisis: a perfect storm of conflict, climate change and COVID. ...Just help me with them one time... The world's in trouble and you're telling me you can't give me .36% of your net worth increase to help the world in trouble, in times like this?... What if it was your daughter starving to death? What if it was your family starving to death? Wake up, smell the coffee, and help... My god, people are dying out there... We have a vaccine for this. It's called money, food.
- Although the famine in Kalahandi was a moderate natural disaster, the starvation deaths were a completely avoidable man-made disaster.
- Pradhan, Dr Tapan Kumar (2020). Kalahandi : The Untold Story. Kohinoor Books. ISBN 978-81-945797-1-7.
- 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.
- Richard Pipes, Communism: A History (2003)