TransAfrica Forum Issue Brief

(Vol. 4, No. 4)
by TransAfrica Forum
Washington, DC, United States
August-September 1985
4 pages
Type: Newsletter
Coverage in Africa: Africa, North Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents:  THE AFRICAN DROUGHT AND FAMINE CRISIS • COPING WITH DROUGHT AND PREVENTING FAMINE: BASIC ISSUES • This ISSUE BRIEF discusses various causes of draught and famine in Africa and explores possible solutions to the famine. The issue begins with an interview with Jeffrey Clarke, staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Hunger. When drought and famine struck the Sahel region over a decade ago, the international community provided substantial emergency relief. Today, less than ten years after the height of that crisis, the world is once again called upon to respond to an even worse famines on the African continent. More than 21 African nations have been hit by critical food shortages; more than 150 million people have been affected, with at least 48 million in immediate danger of starving. We are now constrained to ask challenging questions about the causes of crisis and what needs to be done. Commentators and analysts continually speak of the failure of Africa and of the mismanagement and corruption that is perceived to be unique to their governments. Those who were more charitable also cite the environmental and ecological basis of drought and famine. No less vilified were colonialism and imperialism. Special relief concerts and recordings featuring American, European, Hispanic and Caribbean artists have helped to supply emergency aid to Africa's starving millions; but there are limits to such efforts. Much of the appeal and media coverage reinforces the “charity syndrome” that surrounds such events. There remains a danger that long-term food aid will be regarded as a handout and will be seen as a disincentive for the recipients to produce for themselves. Therefore, relief workers and volunteers must be concerned with how their appeals are crafted. To their credit, U.S.A. for Africa, the American artist's relief effort, has sought to address the range of problems that causes famine. The newsletter mentions Live Aid, private aid, the Global Information and Early Warning System, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a Famine Early Warning system, the World Bank, the IMF (International Monetary Fund), food producers, small farmers, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Berlin Conference, emergency medical supplies and farming supplies, shelter, water wells, rain, a BBC film, and TransAfrica Forum staff Niikwao Akuetteh, Ibrahim J. Gassama, Joseph Jordan, Maryse Mills, Perrin B. Reid, and Randall Robinson.
Used by permission of TransAfrica Forum.
Collection: William Minter Southern Africa Papers