In the News

Sub-Saharan Famine: natural environment causes, or human conflict and corruption?

Andy Day

15th March 2017

The UN is calling it the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. Famine is stalking African countries again - in areas from north-east Nigeria to Somalia and Yemen in eastern Africa. But the causes are complex and while solutions are likely to be similar in terms of the immediate response, they will need to be different in the long-term according to context and causation factors.

The immediate need is food aid to prevent hundreds of thousands of children (and their parents) from dying of starvation. The locations of need extend across half a dozen African countries. But the causes range from a three-year drought in Somalia to civil conflict in north-east Nigeria and Yemen, and alleged corruption in South Sudan combining with civil conflict and climate deterioration.

The immediate response needs to be disaster relief - that will take the same form in all affected countries. But the un-knotting of the complex causes of the different situations will require far more localised solutions. The scale of the problem and the emergency relief is international; the solutions will need to be applied at national scales; the dire need - more regional.

There is an illuminating discussion with a BBC correspondent on the ground, and the director of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) on Radio 4's Today programme of March 15th 2017 that you can listen to here (starts 1:50:09)

A BBC News article maps the locations and describes the conditions in each region that famine is threatening lives and explores the various causes - both natural and human-inspired. You can read it here .

Andy Day

Andy recently finished being a classroom geographer after 35 years at two schools in East Yorkshire as head of geography, head of the humanities faculty and director of the humanities specialism. He has written extensively about teaching and geography - with articles in the TES, Geography GCSE Wideworld and Teaching Geography.

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