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With reference to named examples, explain the causes, effects and solutions to famine

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Introduction

With reference to named examples, explain the causes, effects and solutions to famine (10 marks) Famine has been a global problem for many hundreds of years, but the worst famines have been during the last two centuries, the 18th and 19th Centuries. The worst famine in recorded history was the Great Chinese famine between 1958 and 1961. The famine had many different causes; both human and physical, and is the most deadly. The effects of the famine were widespread; China was effected socially, economically, politically and environmentally. Arguably the most influential causes of the Great Chinese famine were human. The Communist Party of China that had taken hold in 1949, after the civil war, led by Chairman Mao Zedong, launched a new policy known as the 'Great Leap Forward' in 1958. In this policy he forced the collectivisation of agriculture, and farms were organised into vast, badly managed communes. The communes were ordered to plant less grain to save on costs and as the workers were forced to work, there was less incentive to work as effectively as they had before collectivisation; this caused the production of grain to fall by 15% in 1959 and a further 15% in 1960 and did not recover until 1962! ...read more.

Middle

During the drought, the lack of water and high temperatures had baked the land hard, so that when the monsoon season arrived in July-September 1959 the monsoon rainwater could not infiltrate into the soil as it had become impermeable, and had to lie on top of the land and be transported as overland flow, which resulted in even more floods devastating land, and also meant transport links in most of South/ South-East China were affected, so the little aid that was sent out by the government could not get to the areas in dire need of it. As a result of the Great Chinese Famine, between 15 and 30 million people died. The range of deaths is so large because the government tried to cover up the true extent of the famine and only recently are researching the full impact that the famine had in China. The death rate in Guizhou Province was the worst nationally during the famine at 52 per 1000 and in Henan Province it was 39 per 1000 in 1960. ...read more.

Conclusion

To help the country in the long term, in 1972 China bought 13 of the world's largest, most modern nitrogen fertiliser plants. More purchases of these plants followed; China then became the world's largest producer of nitrogenous fertilisers. They used them agriculturally in the growth of their own grain to help prevent famine should it occur again, by growing more grain and storing more in case there should be another famine. They have also built more food storehouses, so that if famine strikes, food can be quickly and evenly distributed. Over the years they have also built more reservoirs, such as the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei Province. Water from these enormous reservoirs can then be used to irrigate the soil for agriculture and restore the depleted groundwater that is used during droughts. The use of this water can be carefully monitored so that it can be used sustainably. In conclusion, the Great Chinese Famine was one the largest ever human tragedies, but as a result of poor government policy and many natural disasters in quick succession, the scale of the disaster augmented beyond belief. Only with international intervention and a change in policy was the famine stopped. ...read more.

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