Analysis of Famine in Ethiopia

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1984 to 1985 famine in Ethiopia


  • 8 years before things were already in a bad way but the government refused to declare a state of emergency.
  • In 1982 the government doubled the prices farmers had to pay for commercial fertilizers meaning a lack of food being made and sold.
  • The government also raised farmers taxes and collects "voluntary" contributions from them to support the war effort.
  • In the 1970s and 1980s Ethiopia was ravaged by war, in the northern part of Ethiopia there was the heavy tension between the Eritrean and Tigray People’s Liberation Front resulting in producing the legacy of war, economic devastation, and war-aggravated famine.
  • Without doubt conflict, political tension and war can add to the food crisis through: food obtained by armies, the restrictions on movement and trade, forcible relocation of the civilian population and the rationing of food. Domestic food production also decreases during war situations where security issues prevent farmers from activities in the open field because of the risks of explosion and massacres.
  • Ethiopia is well known for its droughts which had been increasing, the time between these droughts is small, therefore leaving Ethiopia with little time to recover from the previous one. The unreliable rainfall, lack of irrigation and erosion had arguably not changed significantly over the decades, but as a result of the rise in population, more pressure is put on the already overstretched resources.
  • The peasant farmers were completely dependent on unreliable rainfall.
  • There were no water storage/ conservation methods or facilities in common use.
  • 85% of the population relied on farming for a living. But rainfall didn’t come!
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  • Famine led to more than 400,000 deaths.
  • Affected; excess mortality, increased emigration, lowered fertility until families decided to have more children as insurance against further risk which in the long run will increase fertility and family separation.
  • 600,000 people were moved however many peasants fled rather than allow themselves to be resettled.


  • Despite the fact that the government had access to only a minority of the famine-stricken population in the north, the great majority of relief was channelled through the government side, prolonging the war.
  • Government criticized for withholding food shipments to rebel areas.
  • The ...

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