- In all cases, drought led to the failure of crops which resulted in famines. In 2000 and 1984-1985 there had been poor rainfall for 3 years. This causes crops to fail and also forced herdsman to slaughter their cattle. The slaughtering of cattle was unusual, since the cattle are generally used for milking, not for meat.
- The lack of rain was due to cooler sea temperatures in the Atlantic & Pacific, so less evaporation occurred and hence less rain fell.
- A civil war between Ethiopia and Eritrea had been waged for several years and made it difficult to get food into Ethiopia, including aid, since Ethiopia is landlocked and Eritrea was the only country to have access to a port. In addition, it soon emerged that some of the aid that had been sent over to Ethiopia had been used to feed Ethiopian soldiers and the vehicles used to transport the aid were used for military use.
- The population of Ethiopia had grown exponentially by 2000 meaning there was too little food to feed the population.
Famine in Ethiopia
Ethiopia itself is located in the east of Africa to the south of the country of Eritrea, north of Kenya. The area is landlocked due to Eritrea splitting off during a civil war. The areas affected by the civil war include Eritrea and Tiya, where the civil war has been taking place. Refugees from the civil war in these areas have fled to Koram, which hosted the majority of the famished during a famine in 1984. More recently, a drought in Ethiopia has led to famine in Gode, in the south of Ethiopia.
- The initial famines due to civil war and drought were in 1984 - 1985.
- Famines occurred again in 2000 due to drought.
- In the 1984 famine, 40,000 refugees in Koran were at risk of starving. Of the 40,000 people, some 15,000 children were effected by the famine. A third of these children were severely malnourished.
- In the 1984 famine, 1 person died every 20 minutes due to undernourishment.
- During the 2000 famine, 95% of the livestock had been killed either due to the drought or by their herdsmen, desperate for food.
- 1 million people were killed in both famines.
- The price of food during the 2000 famine rose greatly due to the mass migration of farmers and livestock in search of water and fresh ground. This put substantial pressure on places where there wasn’t enough water and pasture, leading to more deaths.
- Due to the killing of cattle that were intended to be used for milk, milk became scarce leading to malnutrition, especially in pregnant women and children.
- The 2000 famine effected 43% of the population.
- The conditions of the refugee camps and the presence of malnourishment in them led to the spread of diseases such as TB.
- Initially, multiple non government organisations such as Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders attempted to provide aid for those in need. Eventually, international governments became involved in providing aid.
- Live Aid was immensely successful at raising awareness and money for the famine and was responsible for getting governments involved in providing aid to Ethiopia.
- An early warning system was setup to predict poor rainfall so that food and aid can be acquired in preparation.
- Since the 1984 drought, the government holds 350,000 (metric) tonnes of food in reserve in the of a drought. The resources are supposed to be replenished as soon as they are used but during the 2000 drought, the reserves fell to 50,000 tonnes without being replaced.
- Donations of clothing and dry food from the west.
Problems with This Response
- Aid wasn’t well distributed. The poor infrastructure of Ethiopia and its landlocked nature made getting aid into the country hard.
- When Ethiopia appealed for aid, the world didn’t respond with aid due to other problems in the world and reports that donated money was going into the army rather than towards food.
- Medical workers were killed due to the ongoing civil war.
Issues Relating to Famine
- Over dependence on aid by countries can result in a worsened situation and damage to the agricultural economy.
- Disaster fatigue, were people become tired of donating money or want to do more to help than donating money but can’t.
- Coordination between aid agencies and governments can fall apart during crisis resulting wasted aid and more deaths.
- Any food sent must be non-perishable, easily transported and of local tastes. During the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, a stupid mistake meant people sent powdered milk to a country suffering from drought. Powdered milk requires water.