Synopses & Reviews
Famine is preventable. The persistence of famine reflects political failings by African governments, western donors and international relief agencies. Can Africa avoid famine? When freedom from famine is a basic right or a political imperative, famine is prevented. Case studies from Ethiopia to Botswana demonstrate African successes - but they are often not acknowledged or repeated. Who is responsible for the failures? African generals and politicians are the prime culprits for creating famines in Sudan, Somalia and Zaire, but western donors abet their authoritarianism, partly through imposing structural adjustment programmes. What is the role of International relief agencies? Despite prodigious expenditure and high public profile, relief agencies often do more harm than good. From Biafra to Rwanda, relief has helped to fuel war and undermine democratic accountability. As the influence and resources of UN agencies and NGOs have grown, the chances for effective local solutions have diminished. What is the way forward? Humanitarian intervention and other high-profile relief operations have failed. Progress lies in bringing the fight against famine into democratic politics, and calling to account those guilty of creating famine.
"Over the last two decades a spate of books, led by the ones cited in this essay, have illuminated and debated the bristly questions confronting contemporary "humanitarianism."" --Ethics and International Affairs Indiana University Press Indiana University Press Indiana University Press
"A powerful critique of the international humanitarian agencies dominating famine relief in Africa." --Foreign Affairs
"This is unquestionably an important book by a writer whose accomplishments as a researcher, critic and activist on famine and on human rights in Africa are widely respect." --International Affairs
"... de Waal pleads for readers... to probe for a deeper understanding of the 'political roots of famine'... " --WorldView
"... a well-documented critique that should give pause for serious reflection and serve to instruct both the initiate and the master of famine theory... " --Sociocultural Anthropology
Famine Crimes is a factually rich, powerfully intelligent, morally important analysis of the persistence of famine in Africa. Alex de Waal lays the blame for Africa's problems with starvation on the political failings of African governments, western donors, and the misguided policies of international relief agencies.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 222-232) and index.
About the Author
Alex de Waal is co-director of African Rights, London
Table of Contents
List of Acronyms
Rights and Entitlements: The Conquest of Famine in South Africa
Africa 1900-85: A Fragile Obligation to Famine Relief
Retreat from Accountability I: Neo-Liberalism and Adjustment
Retreat from Accountability II: The Humanitarian International
Sudan 1972-93: Privatizing Famine
Northern Ethiopia: Revolution, War-Famine and Two Models of Relief
The End of the Cold War: A New Humanitarian Dispensation
Somalia 1991-92: Famine and Relief After the Demise of the State
Humanitarian Impunity: Somalia 1993 and Rwanda 1994
Eastern Zaire 1996: The Fundraisers' Catastrophe
Political Contracts and Humanitarian Dilemmas