Jul 21, 2011


Famine [ˈfæmɪn]
1. a severe shortage of food, as through crop failure or overpopulation
2. acute shortage of anything
3. violent hunger

The combination of one of East Africa’s worst droughts in 60 years and Somalia’s relentless conflict has depleted the country’s food supplies, and tens of thousands of Somalis have died of malnutrition-related causes in the past few months, the United Nations said.

Somalia has lurched from crisis to crisis since 1991, when the central government imploded. In 1992, the same elements of drought and war set off a famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people and started a cycle of international intervention that, despite billions of dollars and more than a dozen transitional governments, has yet to stabilize the country.
Today, pastures have dried up, and the animals that Somali nomads survive off of are dying in droves. Food prices are escalating, and after 20 years of anarchy, coping mechanisms are collapsing, with many families driven from their land and many breadwinners cut down in Somalia’s endless iterations of civil war.

United Nations officials are cautious about using the word famine, and in the past 20 years, only a handful of humanitarian emergencies have qualified, including in Sudan in 1998, Ethiopia in 2001 and Niger in 2005.
According to the United Nations, a famine is declared when “acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 percent, more than 2 people per 10,000 die per day and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities.”

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