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Famine Relief: Just a Simple Matter of Supplying Food?


In an age of unprecedented surplus, there are still over 800 million people worldwide who are subject to constant famine conditions and resultant malnutrition. The roots of famine are grounded in poverty, war and civil strife, natural disaster, drought, inequitable land distribution, and population growth rates that exceed food production. The costs of famine in terms of human suffering and loss of life are astounding. The objective of this paper is to examine the global response to famine, assess the efficacy of this response, and offer suggestions for how it might be improved. Currently, the famine relief system consists of loosely affiliated organizations without any overarching regulatory body to oversee and evaluate each organization or coordinate individual responses. Many of the criticisms of the system are age old including poor inter-agency coordination, sluggish responses to crisis situations, and technical incompetence. However, despite these shortcomings, it is certain that without an international famine relief system, the toll of famine would be greater.

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