Is it possible to see famines coming, to be prepared and to save possibly hundreds of thousands of lives? Or is this the wrong question?
A famine is not a single natural catastrophe: it has different stages. Many societies have sophisticated strategies for coping – but these are becoming dramatically limited. Famine Early Warning System is about the people who are caught up in the process of famine. Peter Walker looks at how they perceive their predicament and what they do to avert mass starvation: and at what genuinely useful help can be offered in order to prevent irreversible disaster. Originally published in 1989
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Preface 1. The Nature of Disasters: the Challenge of Sustainable Development Introduction What is a Disaster? Disaster Types and Scales Famine: a Failure to Practise Sustainable Development? What is Sustainable Development? The Effect of Non-sustainable Development in Sudan Non-sustainable Development in Brazil What Triggers the Final Stages of Famine? Natural Triggers Man-made Triggers The Success of Sustainable Development in Northern Ethiopia 2. The Outsider's View and the Victims' View of Famine The Outsider's View Famine as a Community Syndrome Who are the Victims and who the Beneficiaries? Famine Vulnerability Famine Beneficiaries The Victims' View The Process of Famine 3. How do People Traditionally Respond? The Victims' Perspective Traditional Responses in Africa Traditional Responses in the Indian Sub-continent Conclusions and Lessons for Famine Early Warning 4. The Non-victims' Reaction Introduction Host Governments Donor Governments International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) The Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) Conclusions 5. The Purpose of Early Warning Systems and the Nature of Information What are the Components of a Perfect Warning System? Who should be Warning Whom to do What? Trigger-related Systems Deprivation-related Systems Conclusion 6. The Tools Available Introduction Remote Sensing Food Balance Models Nutritional Surveillance Market Behaviour Models Social Behaviour Models Conclusions 7. How do States Warn of and Respond to Famine? Introduction India Bangladesh Botswana Ethiopia Conclusions 8. International and Non-governmental Early Warning Systems Introduction FAO/WFP US AID-related UNICEF NGO Systems Other Systems 9. Conclusions and Recommendations for Famine Warning Systems Famine as a Process, not an Event What makes a Warning System Work? The Need for a Two-phase System Recommendations for Famine Warning Systems Recommendations for Mass Starvation Warning Systems Additional Actions which need to be Taken 10. What is the Future for those Vulnerable to Famine? Introduction Population Growth Global Warming and its Implications for Famine Vulnerability Conclusions References Resource Centres Index