Cause of Somalia Famine Essay

Are you aware that more than 1,300,000 people are struggling to survive in Somalia because of the famine? 100,000 people have died from malnutrition and more than half these deaths have happened to children in Somalia’s worst famine in generations. Four main factors severe drought, extreme poverty, anarchy and local authorities and donor polices are blamed for the massive famine. This essay will analyze these three causes of the widespread famine in Somalia. The first cause of the famine in Somalia is the severe drought.

Rainfall during the deyrseason in late 2010 in many areas of the Greater Horn was at the lowest recorded level in 50 years (Fewsnet, 2011). When the drought occurs, the low productivities of timber, agriculture and fishing industries, which means food shortage and lower income will come along and lead to higher commodity pricing. In other words, people’s ability to access to food becomes weaker. Statistics from (Fewsnet, 2011) show that the dramatically decreased crop production and growing livestock mortality influenced negatively the availability of food and the sales of livestock, one of the most common income sources for Somali.

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With the scarce of local food raised the food price, the simultaneous climbing price of food globally exacerbated the situation in Somalia that depends largely on imported food even in the enough-rainfall years. According to Mindy (2011), he believes that it’s the failed Somalia government with corruption problem caused the terrible famine. However, corruption isn’t occurred just in Somalia. Almost all the governments around the world have this issue. But why Somalia has famine?

You have to admit that the widespread drought causes crop failure that means food shortage, lower income and raising price of food. Eventually, famine happens and spread widely. The second cause of the famine has to do with poverty. No one could deny that famine is caused by the simple absence of food. But it’s the poverty that prevents people from available food because of the people’s inability to afford food. “Famines kill millions of people in different countries in the world, but they do not kill the rulers.

The kings and the presidents, the bureaucrats and the bosses, the military leaders and the commanders never starve. ” (Dahl et al. , 2003) However, people who always affected during the famine are the rural poor. The worse part is that these people often suffered from starvation even when the food supply is just fine, no food shortage problem. In Somalia, before it ravaged in the famine, the amount of food was high. But the 2-year drought ruined the situation. This resulted in high rate of unemployment among the rural workers. They had no income sources, so they couldn’t buy food.

Then the situations went worse when people started to hoard food, which brings out the increasing price. The third cause of Somalia famine is the long-term state of anarchy. Since the early 1990s, the Siad Barre regime collapsed and the civil war broke out, Somalia has been in the state of anarchy for 21 years, not mention democracy in Somalia. According to Sen (1999), “no famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy”. What happens in a democracy if crops fail and people begin to die of hunger?

The free press will report that in the country’s newspapers and magazines. People feel upset with the government and require relevant actions. And because politicians want to get votes for keeping their jobs, they must drive the government to find a way to distribute food to the affected areas. If Somalia had a functional democratic government where held lots of nationwide free press, it would have never been into the situation like today. The last and indirect cause of the famine in Somalia is the local authorities and donor policies.

Al-Shabaab, the militant group in Somalia, gradually strengthened their control over the southern Somalia and its population with quite strict restrictions on humanitarian agencies, which led to reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of the help from humanitarian agencies. And Al-Shabaab also strengthened limitations of human movements and increased taxation. This policy restricted the poor Somali people in a certain area without abundant food and the higher taxation pushed the dirt-poor to cliff.

What’s worse, in late February 2008, the US government added Al-Shabaab into the list of foreign terrorist organizations. Because of this, the agencies that accept funding from US must be really careful about that no one belongs to the Al-Shabaab organization gets the benefits. The reaction of western donors to refugee slowed down. So the limitations by Al-Shabaab and donors restricted access and funding. That is, the local authorities and donor policies deteriorate the famine in Somalia. As you can see, the causes of the massive famine in Somalia are complicated.

Unless the Somalia government focuses on the three causes of the famine—drought, poverty, anarchy and local authorities and donor policies, the issue is going to get worse.


Fewsnet, (2011). FEWS NET East Africa Region Alert. (May 6, 2011. ) Mindy, B. , (2011, Aug 3). Somalia Famine Not Necessarily Caused by Drought. World Magazine. Dahl, R. A. , Shapiro, I. , Cheibub, J. A (Eds. ). (2003). The Democracy Sourcebook. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press Sen, A. K, (1999). Development as Freedom. New York: Knopf


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