In the News: Problematizing Famine in Africa

This Blog has been discussing ongoing issues underlying the widespread famine in East and West Africa. Yaa Ampofo recently highlighted the importance of strengthening the state of African climate science and research in order to help governments and local communities prepare for, adapt to and mitigate impacts of impending food shortages on the continent. Kathy Tran demonstrated that the famine situation in West and East Africa is a result of a complicated array of factors, and historical and political context.

A recent New York Times opinion piece by Nadifa Mohamed notes that six million people are at risk of starvation in Somalia, and another fourteen million in South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen. While we find the headline of this piece (“A Fierce Famine Strikes Africa”) problematic for reinforcing negative stereotypes, we agree with an important point Mohamed raises that people facing drought and hunger are not passive victims, simply waiting for charities to save them. “Families, especially women, make superhuman efforts to get by before they are finally forced to ask for help: meals reduced, new trades found, possessions sold, children dispersed, miles crossed,” Mohamed writes. Mohamed calls for Gulf countries to further support those who have managed to survive this far, arguing that the funds needed to prevent famine in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria are far from being met by the international community and calling for Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to take the third pillar of Islam, charity, more seriously.

Click here to read the full post on The New York Times.

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