David Cohne Biography & Facts
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, natural disasters, crop failure, population imbalance, widespread poverty, an economic catastrophe or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, generally characterized Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe, in terms of having suffered most number of deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent in the world.
On 8 November 2021, the World Food Programme warned that 45 million were on the brink of famine across 43 countries. Afghanistan had become the world's largest humanitarian crisis, with the country's needs surpassing those of other worst-hit countries — Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and even Yemen.
According to the United Nations World Food Programme, famine is declared when malnutrition is widespread, and when people have started dying of starvation through lack of access to sufficient, nutritious food. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification criteria define Phase 5 famine of acute food insecurity as occurring when:
At least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope; and
The prevalence of acute malnutrition in children exceeds 30%; and
The death rate exceeds two people per 10,000 people per day.The declaration of a famine carries no binding obligations on the UN or member states, but serves to focus global attention on the problem.
The cyclical occurrence of famine has been a mainstay of societies engaged in subsistence agriculture since the dawn of agriculture itself. The frequency and intensity of famine has fluctuated throughout history, depending on changes in food demand, such as population growth, and supply-side shifts caused by changing climatic conditions. Famine was first eliminated in Holland and England during the 17th century, due to the commercialization of agriculture and the implementation of improved techniques to increase crop yields.
Decline of famine
In the 16th and 17th century, the feudal system began to break down, and more prosperous farmers began to enclose their own land and improve their yields to sell the surplus crops for a profit. These capitalist landowners paid their labourers with money, thereby increasing the commercialization of rural society. In the emerging competitive labour market, better techniques for the improvement of labour productivity were increasingly valued and rewarded. It was in the farmer's interest to produce as much as possible on their land in order to sell it to areas that demanded that product. They produced guaranteed surpluses of their crop every year if they could.
Subsistence peasants were also increasingly forced to commercialize their activities because of increasing taxes. Taxes that had to be paid to central governments in money forced the peasants to produce crops to sell. Sometimes they produced industrial crops, but they would find ways to increase their production in order to meet both their subsistence requirements as well as their tax obligations. Peasants also used the new money to purchase manufactured goods. The agricultural and social developments encouraging increased food production were gradually taking place throughout the 16th century, but took off in the early 17th century.
By the 1590s, these trends were sufficiently developed in the rich and commercialized province of Holland to allow its population to withstand a general outbreak of famine in Western Europe at that time. By that time, the Netherlands had one of the most commercialized agricultural systems in Europe. They grew many industrial crops such as flax, hemp and hops. Agriculture became increasingly specialized and efficient. The efficiency of Dutch agriculture allowed for much more rapid urbanization in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries than anywhere else in Europe. As a result, productivity and wealth increased, allowing the Netherlands to maintain a steady food supply.By 1650, English agriculture had also become commercialized on a much wider scale. The last peacetime famine in England was in 1623–24. There were still periods of hunger, as in the Netherlands, but no more famines ever occurred. Common areas for pasture were enclosed for private use and large scale, efficient farms were consolidated. Other technical developments included the draining of marshes, more efficient field use patterns, and the wider introduction of industrial crops. These agricultural developments led to wider prosperity in England and increasing urbanization. By the end of the 17th century, English agriculture was the most productive in Europe. In both England and the Netherlands, the population stabilized between 1650 and 1750, the same time period in which the sweeping changes to agriculture occurred. Famine still occurred in other parts of Europe, however. In Eastern Europe, famines occurred as late as the twentieth century.
Attempts at famine alleviation
Because of the severity of famine, it was a chief concern for governments and other authorities. In pre-industrial Europe, preventing famine, and ensuring timely food supplies, was one of the chief concerns of many governments, although they were severely limited in their options due to limited levels of external trade, infrastructure, and bureaucracy generally too rudimentary to effect real relief. Most governments were concerned by famine because it could lead to revolt and other forms of social disruption.
By the mid-19th century and the onset of the Industrial Revolution, it became possible for governments to alleviate the effects of famine through price controls, large scale importation of food products from foreign markets, stockpiling, rationing, regulation of production and charity. The Great Famine of 1845 in Ireland was one of the first famines to feature such intervention, although the government response was often lackluster. The initial response of the British government to the early phase of the famine was "prompt and relatively successful", according to F. S. L. Lyons. Confronted by widespread crop failure in the autumn of 1845, Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel purchased £100,000 worth of maize and cornmeal secretly from America. Baring Brothers & Co initially acted as purchasing agents for the Prime Minister. The government hoped that they would not "stifle private enterprise" and that their actions would not act as a disincentive to local relief efforts. Due to weather conditions, the first shipment did not arrive in Ireland until the beginning of February 1846. The maize corn was then re-sold for a penny a pound.In 1846, Peel moved to repea.... Discover the David Cohne popular books. Find the top 100 most popular David Cohne books.