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The Politics of Famine in Ethiopia

Rock, Mary June (1994) The Politics of Famine in Ethiopia. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In attempting to explain the causes of famine, the literature on famine points to different factors. This list of causes includes: drought; neo-Malthusian population growth; environmental degradation; limited technology; capitalist development, or the lack of it; the nature of the state, blamed either for lack of intervention or, on the contrary, for too much intervention; and, war. However, to attempt to determine how causation of famine might be quantitatively apportioned between the different factors listed in the debates on causes of famine is of limited value, precisely because the different factors that promote famine - drought, environmental degradation, economic decline, war - are inextricably intertwined and interact with one another. Moreover, famine is not simply predetermined by the factors that the debate on causes itemizes. People's own actions and what people choose to do also shapes the outcome and future strategies for survival. The concern of this thesis is with famine in the case study areas, but our concern is not with debating the causes of famine as much as with identifying consequences. We examine the effects of the array of forces on people's strategies for survival in the research areas during and after the drought and famine of the mid-1980's. We describe the different strategies pursued by people in the study areas in the circumstances that existed during the drought and famine of the mid-1980's; and then discuss the consequences of those actions for people's ability to recover and for people's future survival strategies. The empirical data are based on two case studies carried out over a 6 month period from late October 1991 to end April 1992 in the Kallu area of southern Wollo. Wallo is the province that was hit hardest by famine during 1984/5 and in 1972/4. In documenting the resource base in which people in the study areas sought to survive, our findings challenge commonly held assumptions about the effects of the 1975 Land Reform, the nature of Peasant Associations, and the nature of gender relations. The findings on the consequences of people's responses during the drought and famine of the mid-1980's indicate that we need to reconsider the issue of what is meant by the notion of 'coping', so central to much of the literature on famine survival strategies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Digitisation Studio Leeds
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2012 13:17
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2141

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