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Famine and Feast Life on the margins: the inequality of food and nutrition security THINKERS’ VIEWS ON FEEDING GROWING POPULATIONS. PowerPoint presentation by Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) UK Schools Team: Mary Doherty and Severa von Wentzel March 2014.
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PowerPoint presentation by
Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) UK
Schools Team: Mary Doherty and Severa von Wentzel
Population explosion? The claim that population was exploding was not exaggerated. Population growth has been exponential, not linear, and resources are finite. Does more people meant more poorer people? Actually, it matters not only what new people cost, but also what they can add.
Action for students: Although the population in absolute numbers continues to grow, the growth rates have slowed down. How can both be happening? Watch the Population Reference Bureau’s Video “7 billion and counting” http://www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2011/world-population-data-sheet/video-7-billion.aspx
Action for students:
Further info:Multimedia resource on population trends
and correlations –
http://www.7billionactions.org/data?gclid=CK-qlZCs8rcCFa7JtAod5ykAOA On population growth and food production –
the looming food crisis in Asia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UKpQKOjids
“No possible form of society could prevent the almost constant action of misery upon a great part of mankind” - Thomas Malthus (1798)
Malthus theory (1826)
The neo-Malthusians have been predicting global famine because of an
overpopulated planet. In The Population Bomb (1968) Dr. Paul Ehrlich pronounced:
“The battle to feed all humanity is over.”
In the 1970s the concept of a global food crisis, the Malthusian catastrophe, took hold with concerns that there would not be enough food to feed the growing world population. Based on the Malthusian premise, the people in development with power implemented neo-Malthusian policies and aid focused on increasing food supply and containing population growth through population control.
“Solving the population problem is not going to solve the problems of racism…of sexism…of religious intolerance… of war… of gross economic inequality. But if you don’t solve the population problem, you’re not going to solve any of those problems. Whatever problem you’re interested in, you’re not going to solve it unless you also solve the population problem.”(http://www.populationmatters.org/making-case/quotations/)
* Ehrlich quoted in Weeks, J R (1999) Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues 7th Edition pp673 Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Action for students:
Do you think Malthus’s ideas were correct? If not for food, do they hold for water?
Did the Industrial Revolution debunk his theory?
Ester Boserup argued that societies under pressure from population growth invent their own technologies to increase food production.
PHOTO: JAN JØRGENSEN /SCANPIX Boserup
Food per capita falls
Food per capita
Negative feedback loop
Population growth continues
Source: Adapted from Witherick M. And S. Warn Farming, Food and Famine, Nelson Thornes: 2001
Amaryta Sen wrote on poverty, famines and deprivation
based on the 1943 famine in Bengal, India. He argued that
the cause was “entitlement failure” against the Food Availability
Decline (FAD) hypothesis. FAD holds that the central cause of all famines is a
decline in food availability. His approach has been influential in the trade justice and sustainability discourse.
“I attempted to see famines as broad "economic" problems (concentrating on how people can buy food, or otherwise get entitled to it), rather than in terms of the grossly undifferentiated picture of aggregate food supply for the economy as a whole.” – Sen in his book Poverty and Famines (1981)
Further infoon different approaches
Critique by Stephen Devereux (IDS): “Sen’s Entitlement Approach –
Critiques and Counter-critiques”
“A complementary analysis is required, one that recognizes the importance of non-market institutions in determining entitlements, famine as social process and epidemiological crisis, and violations of entitlement rules in the complex emergencies that typify most contemporary famines.”(http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dludden/FamineMortality.pdf)
The issues of food security has broadened beyond the economics
perspective and the Individual as a unit of analyses. It includes:
Thomas F. Homer Dixon argues that a global population expected to pass 8 billion in 2025 and rapid growth in the global economy exasperates depletion of resources and lead to profound social consequences.
Countries with capable states, efficient markets and an educated population tend to adapt better to scarcity than those without these traits.
The effects of environmental scarcity are indirect and together with other socio-economic and political stresses can include:
Source and image: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6640.html)
Link to download the book
Is food security primarily determined by whether poor people have access to food? Famine is not usually caused by absolute scarcity but by inequity in the distribution of food production, the inability to produce food (lacking resources) and to import the shortfall (lacking means). As such, it is avoidable.
Kalahandi Syndrome: Kalahandi district is major provider of rice to the India Food Corporation. The Syndrome describes cases where famines occur because farmers grow cash crops to meet demands of the global markets instead of feeding themselves, so famine linked more to uneven access to food, resources and technologies than ability to increase global agricultural production and aggregate food availability. Landless farmers could not afford to buy the rice they had grown from their landlords.
Famine can occur in areas with low access to food infrastructure markets because of
social and economic issues and / or low agricultural potential because of
biophysical constraints rather than in areas favoured with high levels of both.
Devereux, S, 2000,“Famine in the twentieth century”, IDS working Paper, no105,Intitule of
Development Studies, Brighton.
____2001,“Sen’s entitlement Approach: Critiques and Counter-critiques, Oxford Development Studies,
Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 245-263
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