In Ethiopia :-
1. Catastrophic Famine of 1974 of the Negus
Resulted 100 thousnds died and the Imperial Regime Fall from power by hungered Ethiopians in early days of the 1974 Wollo Famine,
2. The Biblical Famine of 1984-1991 of the Derg
The Derg regime fall provoked by famine of Tigre starting 1984, and killed over 2 million lives
3. The Armageddon Famine 2005-2012 of Woyane
Today the we are witnessing for the third time the coming fall of Woyane regime due to all Ethiopian famine. This is due to total nationalization of all the land of Ethiopia. It has been sold today to Land Grabbers 1.5 usd per hectare per year for 48 years, while in India the same is leased for 350 per hectare per year… but in difference to Ethiopia in India the money goes to the people not to the regime. The Woyane government has been deliberately instigating famine which reached in the end of 2009 over 15 million. Like the communist regime of the Derg, Woyane manipulate the aid as a main source of income the last 18 years.
“affluent people have a strong obligation to relieve famine. If they fail, they allow others to die, and makes them murderers”
Prof. Peter Singer in Famine, Affluence, and Morality in The Journal of The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2002.
Cursed with chronically oppressive and incompetent governments, Ethiopians have endured
mass starvation almost as a matter of course.81 During the early 1970s, the country suffered a series of droughts that put tremendous strain on its food supply. Emperor Haile Selassie and his government by and large ignored the resulting hunger.82 They paid a price for this indifference; by exploiting national unrest fueled in part by starvation, a Communist-led uprising overthrew Haile Selassie and, after a few years of internecine fighting, the Dergue, an extreme left-wing faction, took over. The Dergue, led by Col. Mengistu Haile Meriam, embarked in the late 1970s on a radical Marxist redistribution of property and collectivization of agriculture, echoing Stalin’s “reforms.”83 True to the Soviet model, the state levied large grain quotas on farmers, subjected them to heavy taxation, and forced them to sell grain to the government at greatly undervalued prices.84 These policies destroyed incentives and led to dramatic falls in productivity.85 It was not so clear as in Stalin’s case that the government had declared war on its own citizens. However, the misguided adherence to Communist dogma by an inept regime eviscerated individuals’ preexisting abilities to feed themselves while the government took no corresponding action to provide an alternative.86 This government-manufactured food shortage, however inadvertent, left Ethiopians increasingly vulnerable to exogenous faminogenic shocks by the early 1980s. Such a shock came in the form of severe drought. It is tempting, but incorrect, to hold this natural disaster liable for the famine that ensued.87 Other parts of sub-Saharan Africa were hit at the same time— neighboring Kenya suffered the same drought as Ethiopia—without an outbreak of famine.88 The Dergue’s disastrous macroeconomic policies made Ethiopia particularly susceptible. The forcible expropriation of property in the form of high grain quotas and excessive taxation, combined with artificially low market prices due to government constraints, prevented farmers from either keeping their grain for themselves or selling it for enough to buy food. Faced with poor weather, peasants were defenseless, unable to exercise their traditional “coping” mechanisms to mitigate the effects of drought.89 A report on the famine labels these as longterm causes, finding that hunger was due to the deterioration in the productive capacity of the peasant populations and the elimination of traditional methods of coping with predictable fluctuations in climatic and environmental factors. “Foremost among these factors were government programs, redistribution of land, confiscation of grain and livestock through excessive taxes and obligations, and coercive labor programs and a decline in available labor force.”90 As Clay and Holcomb observe, “Famine . . . resulted primarily from government policies . . . implemented in order to accomplish massive collectivization of agricultural production and to secure central government control over productive regions of the country where indigenous peoples have developed strong anti-government resistance.”91 These government policies, while perhaps not intentionally faminogenic, were pursued in spite of significant evidence that they were leading to disaster. After years of such malpractice, the consequences were made clearer and clearer to the government.92 Still, in 1985, after the famine was already in full swing, the Dergue authorities persisted with their disastrous policies.93 But the Dergue was not just recklessly indifferent. The famine did not strike all of Ethiopia equally but, rather, was targeted at Wollo and Tigray, with a sharp, but brief, episode in Eritrea.94 Not coincidentally, these three areas were homes to separatist rebellions that were assailed in accordance with a withering counterinsurgency strategy. The fierceness of the famine in these combat zones arose out of the Dergue’s deliberate use of starvation as a weapon.
“there has never been a famine in a functioning multiparty
democracy,”40 constitutes the backdrop for the argument connecting famine to human agency. Sen and Drèze observe that it is not exogenous faminogenic shocks like drought but
“negligence or smugness or callousness on the part of the non-responding authorities” rèze and Sen argue that “it has to be recognized that even when the prime mover in a famine is a natural occurrence such as a flood or a drought, what its impact will be on the population would depend on how society is organized.”
JEAN DRÈZE & AMARTYA SEN, HUNGER AND PUBLIC ACTION 46 (1989).
From famines to philosophy: Sen and the art of humanistic economics
============== ================= The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on its award of the Nobel Prize for economics to Amartya Sen. The Prize will be presented to Dr Sen in Stockholm on Thursday. Amartya Sen has made several key contributions to the research on fundamental problems in welfare economics. His contributions range from axiomatic theory of social choice, over definitions of welfare and poverty indexes, to empirical studies of famine. They are tied closely together by a general interest in distributional issues and a particular interest in the most impoverished members of society. Sen has clarified the conditions which permit aggregation of individual values into collective decisions, and the conditions which permit rules for collective decision-making that are consistent with a sphere of rights for the individual. By analysing the available information about different individuals’ welfare when collective decisions are made, he has improved the theoretical foundation for comparing different distributions of society’s welfare and defined new, and more satisfactory, indexes of poverty. In empirical studies, Sen’s applications of his theoretical approach have enhanced our understanding of the economic mechanisms underlying famines. Can the values which individual members of society attach to different alternatives be aggregated into values for society as a whole, in a way that is both fair and theoretically sound? Is the majority principle a workable decision rule? How should income inequality be measured? When and who can we compare the distribution of welfare in different societies? How should we best determine whether poverty is on the decline? What are the factors that trigger famines? By answering questions such as these, Amartya Sen has made a number of noteworthy contributions to central fields of economic science and opened up new fields of study for subsequent generations of researchers. By combining tools from economics and philosophy, he has restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems.
Individual values and collective decisions
_____________________ _____________________ When there is general agreement, the choices made by society are uncontroversial. When opinions differ, the problem is to find methods for bringing together different opinions in decisions which concern everyone. The theory of social choice is preoccupied precisely with this link between individual values and collective choice. Fundamental questions are whether — and, if so, in what way — preferences for society as a whole can be consistently derived from the preferences of its members. The answers are crucial for the feasibility of ranking, or otherwise evaluating, different social states and thereby constructing meaningful measures of social welfare. Majority rule ————- ————– Majority voting is perhaps the most common rule for making collective decisions. A long time ago, this rule was found to have serious deficiencies, in addition to the fact that it may allow a majority to suppress a minority. In some situations it may pay off to vote strategically (that is by not voting for the preferred alternative), or to manipulate the order in which different alternatives are voted upon. Voting between pairs of alternatives sometimes fails to produce a clear result in a group. A majority may thus prefer alternative ‘A’ to alternative ‘B’ whereas a (second) majority prefers ‘B’ to ‘C’; meanwhile, a (third) majority prefers ‘C’ to ‘A’. In the wake of this kind of “intransitivity”, the decision rule cannot select an alternative that is unambiguously best for any majority. In collaboration with Prasanta Pattanaik, Amartya Sen has specified the general conditions that eliminate intransitivities of majority rule. In the early fifties, such problems associated with rules for collective choice motivated economics laureate Kenneth Arrow (1972) to examine possible rules for aggregating individual preferences (values, votes), where majority rule was only one of many alternatives. His surprising but fundamental result was that no aggregation (decision) rule exists that fulfils five conditions (axioms), each of which appears very reasonable on its own. This so-called impossibility theorem seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle to progress in the normative branch of economics for a long time. How could individual preferences be aggregated and different social states evaluated in a theoretically satisfactory way? Sen’s contributions from the mid-sixties onwards were instrumental in alleviating this pessimism. His work not only enriched the principles of social choice theory; it also opened up new and important fields of study. Sen’s monograph, Collective Choice and Social Welfare, from 1970 was particularly influential and inspired many researchers to renew their interest in basic welfare issues. Its style, interspersing formally and philosophically oriented chapters, gave the economic analysis of normative problems a new dimension. In the book as well as many separate articles, Sen treated problems such as: majority rule, individual rights, and the availability of information about individual welfare. Individual rights A self-evident prerequisite for a collective decision-making rule is that it should be “non-dictatorial”; that is, it should not reflect the values of any single individual. A minimal requirements for protecting individual rights is that the rule should respect the individual preferences of at least some people in at least some dimension, for instance regarding their personal sphere. Sen pointed to a fundamental dilemma by showing that no collective decision rule can fulfil such a minimal requirement on individual rights and the other axioms in Arrow’s impossibility theorem. This finding initiated an extensive scientific discussion about the extent to which a collective decision rule can be made consistent with a sphere of individual rights. Information about the welfare of individuals Traditionally, the theory of social choice had only assumed that every individual can rank different alternatives, without assuming anything about interpersonal comparability. This assumption certainly avoided the difficult question of whether the utility individuals attach to different alternatives can really be compared. Unfortunately, it also precluded saying anything worthwhile about inequality. Sen initiated an entirely new field in the theory of social choice, by showing how different assumptions regarding interpersonal comparability affect the possibility of finding a consistent, non-dictatorial rule for collective decisions. He also demonstrated the implicit assumptions made when applying principles proposed by moral philosophy to evaluate different alternatives for society. The utilitarian principle, for instance, appeals to the sum of all individuals’ utility when evaluating a specific social state; this assumes that differences in the utility of alternative social states can be compared across individuals. The principle formulated by the American philosopher John Rawls — that the social state should be evaluated only with reference to the individual who is worst off — assumes that the utility level of each individual can be compared to the utility of every other individual. Later developments in social choice rely, to a large extent on Sen’s analysis of the information about, and interpersonal comparability of, individual utilities. Indexes of welfare and poverty In order to compare distributions of welfare in different countries, or to study changes in the distribution within a given country, some kind of index is required that measures differences in welfare or income. The construction of such indexes is an important application of the theory of social choice, in the sense that inequality indexes are closely linked to welfare functions representing the values of society. Serge Kolm, Anthony Atkinson and — somewhat later — Amartya Sen were the first to derive substantial results in this area. Around 1970, they clarified the relation between the so-called Lorentz curve (that describes the income distribution), the so-called Gini coefficient (that measures the degree of income inequality), and society’s ordering of different income distributions. Sen has later made valuable contributions by defining poverty indexes and other welfare indicators. Poverty indexes A common measure of poverty in a society is the share of the population, H, with incomes below a certain, predetermined, poverty line. But the theoretical foundation for this kind of measure was unclear. It also ignored the degree of poverty among the poor; even a significant boost in the income of the poorest groups in society does not affect H as long as their incomes do not cross the poverty line. To remedy these deficiencies, Sen postulated five reasonable axioms from which he derived a poverty index: P=H.[I+(1-I). G]. Here, G is the Gini coefficient, and I is a measure (between 0 and 1) of the distribution of income, both computed only for the individuals below the poverty line. Relying on his earlier analysis of information about the welfare of single individuals, Sen clarified when the index can and should be applied; comparisons can, for example, be made even when data are problematic, which is often the case in poor countries where poverty indexes have their most intrinsic application. Sen’s poverty index has subsequently been applied extensively by others. Three of the axioms he postulated have been used by those researchers, who have proposed alternative indexes. Welfare indicators A problem when comparing the welfare of different societies is that many commonly used indicators, such as income per capita, only take average conditions into account. Sen has developed alternatives, which also encompass the income distribution. A specific alternative — which, like the poverty index, he derived from a number of axioms — is to use the measure y.(1-G), where y is income per capita and G is the Gini coefficient. Sen has emphasised that what creates welfare is not goods as such, but the activity for which they are acquired. According to this view, income is significant because of the opportunities it creates. But the actual opportunities — or capabilities, as Sen calls them — also depend on a number of other factors, such as health; these factors should also be considered when measuring welfare. Alternative welfare indicators, such as the United Nations Human Development Index, are constructed precisely in this spirit. Amartya Sen has pointed out that all well-founded ethical principles presuppose equality among individuals in some respect. But as the ability to exploit equal opportunity varies across individuals, the distribution problem can never be fully solved; equality in some dimension necessarily implies inequality in others. In which dimension we advocate equality and in which dimensions we have to accept inequality obviously depends on how we evaluate the different dimensions of welfare. In analogy with his approach to welfare measurement, Sen maintains that capabilities of individuals constitute the principal dimension in which we should strive for equality. At the same time, he observes a problem with this ethical principle, namely that individuals make decisions which determine their capabilities at a later stage. Welfare of the poorest In his very first articles, Sen analysed the choice of production technology in developing countries. Indeed, almost all of Sen’s works deal with development economics, as they are often devoted to the welfare of the poorest people in society. He has also studied actual famines, in a way quite in line with his theoretical approach to welfare measurement. Analysis of famine Sen’s best known work in this area is his book from 1981: Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Here, he challenges the common view that a shortage of food is the most important (sometimes the only) explanation for famine. On the basis of a careful study of a number of such catastrophes in India, Bangladesh, and Saharan counties, from the Forties onwards, he found other explanatory factors. He argues that several observed phenomena cannot in fact be explained by a shortage of food alone, for example that famines have occurred even when the supply of food was not significantly lower than during previous years (without famines), or that famine stricken areas have sometime exported food. Sen shows that a profound understanding of famine requires a thorough analysis of how various social and economic factors influence different groups in society and determine their actual opportunities. For example, part of his explanation for the Bangladesh famine of 1974 is that flooding throughout the country that year significantly raised food prices, while work opportunities for agricultural workers declined drastically as one of the crops could not be harvested. Due to these factors, the real incomes of agricultural workers declined so much that this group was disproportionately stricken by starvation. Later works by Sen (summarised in a book from 1989 with Jean Dreze) discuss — in a similar spirit — how to prevent famine, or how to limit the effects of famine once it has occurred. Even though a few critics have questioned the validity of some empirical results in Poverty and Famine, the book is undoubtedly a key contribution to development economics. With its emphasis on distributional issues and poverty, the book rhymes well with the common theme in Amartya Sen’s research. __________________________________________
The Real Causes of Famine
By Jeffrey Sachs Amartya Sen, this year’s Nobel prizewinner in economics, has helped give voice to the world’s poor. And that is no small matter, for the very lives of the world’s poor may depend on having their voices heard. In a lifetime of careful scholarship, Sen has repeatedly returned to a basic theme: even impoverished societies can improve the well-being of their least advantaged members. Societies that attend to the poorest of the poor can save their lives, promote their longevity and increase their opportunities through education and productive work. Societies that neglect the poor, on the other hand, may inadvertently allow millions to die of famine–even in the middle of an economic boom, as occurred during the great famine in Bengal, India, in 1943, the subject of Sen’s most famous case study. Sen demonstrated that the Bengal famine was caused by an urban economic boom that raised food prices, thereby causing millions of rural workers to starve to death when their wages did not keep up. And why didn’t the government react by dispensing emergency food relief? Sen’s answer was enlightening. Because colonial India was not a democracy, he said, the British rulers had little interest in listening to the poor, even in the midst of famine. This political observation gave rise to what might be called Sen’s Law: shortfalls in food supply do not cause widespread deaths in a democracy because vote-seeking politicians will undertake relief efforts; but even modest food shortfalls can create deadly famines in authoritarian societies. Sen has placed great emphasis on poor societies that have achieved high standards in health and education. Costa Rica, for example, which has an average annual income that is only about one-fourth the U.S. level, boasts a life expectancy of 76 years–almost identical to the U.S.’s. Reason: Costa Rica disbanded its army in 1949 and focused public spending on basic health and education. Brazil, by contrast, has almost the same average income as Costa Rica, but a life expectancy that is 10 years lower. Brazil has greater social inequalities, and much of the population lives in deep poverty. Sen’s observations have been taken to heart in the valuable Human Development Report issued annually by the United Nations Development Program. That document features a Human Development Index that ranks countries by a combination of three factors: average income, educational attainment and life expectancy. Thus, Costa Rica ranks 62nd from the top in average income but much better, at 39th, in the Human Development Index. These rankings convey Sen’s powerful message: annual income growth is not enough to achieve development. Societies must pay attention to social goals as well, always leaning toward their most vulnerable citizens, and overcoming deep-rooted biases to invest in the health and well-being of girls as well as boys. In a world in which 1.5 billion people subsist on less than $1 a day, this Nobel Prize can be not just a celebration of a wonderful scholar but also a clarion call to attend to the urgent needs and hopes of the world’s poor. Jeffrey Sachs is director of the Harvard Institute for International Development
In 1984 and 1985, famine struck East Africa. More than one million people died. Millions more went hungry. Crops turned to dust, livestock were decimated. Ethiopia has experienced other food crises, but the magnitude of the 1984 famine captured the attention of the world. Why was it so severe, and what lessons have been learned since then? Background: The 1984 Crisis ———————– ————————- In the radio reports below, recorded 25 years ago, VOA’s Dan Robinson describes the development of the famine and the world’s response. Lessons Learned Some lessons have been learned in the past 25 years, as highlighted in the videos below. For instance, the Ethiopian government has implemented a safety net program to address the chronic need for food and anticipate emergencies. A national grain reserve can now provide a cushion in times of crisis until emergency food aid arrives. VOA has also reported on the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), developed to improve communication in humanitarian aid response. Some programs, such as an ACDI/VOCA program aimed at increasing sustainability among small farmers, have enhanced agricultural productivity. The Ethiopia Commodities Exchange, profiled in a PBS documentary, aims to improve food access and intranational trade. But while there has been progress, some necessary changes have still not taken root. Some critics charge that the international community has not done enough to prioritize long-term agricultural development, and agricultural productivity is hampered by the lack of private land ownership. In addition, although the ability to transport food aid has improved, access to vulnerable populations is still hampered by road quality and armed conflict. Food Security Today Although a lot has been done to improve food security, millions of people in East Africa are again going hungry as a result of prolonged drought, conflict or a combination of both. FEWS NET rates Somalia, much of Kenya and parts of Ethiopia and Sudan as highly or extremely food insecure. In Somalia, one in five children is suffering from malnutrition and 3.6 million people are in need of aid. (Oxfam) Ethiopia’s government has appealed for nearly 160,000 tons of food aid to feed more than six million needy people. (DPPC) Over 500,000 animals in Kenya are estimated to have died in the drought, at a cost of over $260 million to the local economy. (Oxfam) The price of maize in Uganda in October this year is 171 percent higher than two years ago. (VOA) Climate change seems to be exacerbating the cycle of drought; rains have been insufficient for three years in a row. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, leading the African delegation to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, appealed to attendees, “Africa is going to be hit hardest and it’s going to be hit first.” The following video reports provide additional information on the ongoing drought and its effects. ———————– ——————————
Hunger Stalks Ethiopia Once Again
16 December 2009
It’s been decades since Ethiopia experienced a major famine. But food shortages remain a familiar reality to millions. The last major famine in Ethiopia took place in 1985-86. At first it affected the northern part of the country, but it eventually spread to parts of the southern highlands. The famine claimed the lives of nearly one million Ethiopians. Almost six million were dependent on food aid – and many remain so today. Twenty-five years later, Ethiopia is in the midst of yet another round of food shortages. The government has appealed for nearly 160,000 tons of food aid to feed more than six million needy people. Lack of rain Ethiopia’s Communications Minister Bereket Simon said insufficient rain is the main cause of the latest food crisis. “The cause for the recent shortage in food in some places is first the normal rain that we get around end of May and June has come late. And then in some places it has withdrawn early. So these are the main reasons,” Simon said. Critics accuse the government of underestimating and under-reporting the extent of the food shortages. Bereket said such finger-pointing lacks merit. “We don’t understand why we should hide anything. That’s simply an allegation. This is a country which has big capability to avoid famine. We’ve had droughts several times, but we have never had famine in 18 years. So this is the capacity that the government has. It has been telling the exact numbers of people facing food shortages. So there is no reason why we hide,” Simon said. Lack of political will Wall Street Journal reporter Roger Thurow co-authored a recent book titled: “Enough – Why the World’s Poor Starve in Age of Plenty.” The author devotes much of his book to Ethiopia. Thurow said more than anything else, the recurrence of food shortages points to a lack of political will on the part of Ethiopia’s leaders and Western donors. “Not only the Ethiopian government, but the Western governments and development agencies, the World Bank, the development agencies of many of the countries in the developed world for their agricultural development assistance for the small farmers of Africa. And in the famine of 2003 one saw this whole manifestation of this neglect, this lack of political will come to bear,” Thurow said. Land tenure Under the government’s land tenure policy, the state owns all land. The Wall Street Journal reporter said the policy discourages initiative and hurts agricultural productivity. “The lack of a private ownership of land hinders the accumulation of wealth by smaller farmers. Using land as collateral to secure loans or to secure credit is really important, and credit is the life blood of small farmers the world over. Outright ownership would also give farmers the confidence to make improvements to their properties,” Thurow said. Not so, said communications minister Bereket Simon. He said the government’s land policy has already benefitted millions of rural Ethiopians. “Drought has nothing to do with government policies. On the contrary our policies enable the farmer to re resilient and they are improving a lot of things because they are the main beneficiaries of the land policy. You know this criticism comes whenever there is a shortage of rain or water,” he said. International donors Bereket expressed gratitude to international donors and aid agencies that provide emergency relief. But he said the amount of food aid delivered has been much less than reported in the media. The British aid agency Oxfam has called for an end to what it calls “knee-jerk” reactions to food crises. It said sending food aid is only a temporary fix and should be coupled with longer-term solutions – a view endorsed by Roger Thurow. “One does need to have kind of an emergency response capability out there. But at the same time, and I think this is what Oxfam is talking about, we need to have the emergency aid goes out, we need to have this longer term view of agricultural development aid and practices that will put, particularly in Africa or Ethiopia, the farmers in better position to keep on producing and hopefully prevent these recurrent hunger crises,” Thurow said. Ethiopia’s communications minister Bereket Simon said his government has actually been taking steps in that regard. He said a review of the past several years demonstrates the effectiveness of its land policy – and said the government will continue to work on areas that need improvement. “In the last 18 years, about 20-25 million people have been added to Ethiopia, and most of these years government and the country itself have been able to feed most of these additional numbers of people. We have a very good agricultural product where we help our 13 million small-scale farmers…and in some places we are showing quite very encouraging results. But in some drought-prone areas we know that we need to do more, and we are committed to that type of agricultural development,” Simon said. Lessons learned Agricultural experts say feeding a population of over 80 million will remain a major challenge for Ethiopia. Author Thurow said both the government and donors should take stock of lessons learned from past food crises as it plans agricultural policies for the future. “One of the lessons to be drawn from past hunger crises in Ethiopia is the crucial importance of the agriculture development aid and creating the conditions for the Ethiopian farmers to have the incentive to produce as much food as possible… so they wouldn’t be in need of food aid to begin with. Those numbers need to be reversed,” Thurow said. The World Food Program said because of lower funding, it will run out of food for more than a million mothers and their children. The U.N. agency said it’s also working to help poor Ethiopians reach a point where they no longer need food assistance. ——————————– 16 December 2009