Millions of people in the Horn of Africa are dying, as the famine in Somalia worsens. Hundreds of thousands of Somalians face severe hunger, originally cause by broken government and feuding tribes and now worsened by a recent drought. Often times, the word ‘famine’ provokes images of fields of blighted crops, and treacherously cloudless skies. However, the work of esteemed economist Amartya Sen has shown that the majority of famine in the 20th century has been caused by poor food distribution, rather than lack of food, and such is certainly the case in Somalia.
Droughts are a natural occurrence in the world that cause crop failure and hunger. However, in this day and age, their effects can be easily negated by food aid from other areas. But unfortunately, since 2006, much of the southern part of the country has faced an insurgency led by Al Shabab, and under its rule, many aid organizations were restricted from providing food aid, which in turn makes it difficult to help famine victims. As well, food aid that is provided is greatly reduced due to corrupt contractors hired to distribute food. The UN is attempting to stop the pilfering by serving individual packages of porridge instead of sacks of grains, and the World Food Program has said it will not cut back on aid, and will ask contractors to pay back for food that was not delivered, and without a doubt, much of the food is benefiting victims.
Aid groups are still working hard to save as many lives as possible throughout this tragic ordeal. Although it is not a permanent solution to the problem, money donated to organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, CARE, Mercy Corp, and UNICEF will be used to provide as much food aid and medical aid to malnourished Somalis, and victims of cholera and measles epidemics to minimize the death toll as best they can.