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Violence via Desperation

In Phillip’s article titled, “Hunger, Healing, and Citizenship in Central Tanzania,” she explores the negative consequences of food scarcity during the East African Food Crisis of 2006. Because food aid was so scarce, tribe leaders of Langilanga were forced to distribute food according to the village’s three-tiered grouping of households. Households who could buy grain were given no aid, the poorest households were given a limited amount of grain, and everybody else could buy a small amount of grain. This distribution of aid led to much public protest, as the people demanded their right to food.

As demonstrated in past case studies that we have looked at, scarcity of any kind can lead to political turmoil. For example, the water crisis in Baja led to public protest as well. In Langilanga, guards were forced to watch over the food storage over night because the situation had become so grave. One chairman stated, “But right now a person can be killed for just one bucket of grain. In Nyaturu we say ‘The year of the lions does not loan doors.’ You cannot trust anyone with food when it is the time of hunger” (Phillips 28). It appears that conflict is nearly unavoidable during times of resource scarcity. And as Phillips points out, it seems that people are beginning to classify famines of this sort as less of a natural disaster, and more of a political and economic issue. Clearly underlying structures need to be addressed in situations similar to this.

I thought this videoclip clearly demonstrates the turmoil that can result from food scarcity, especially during the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JBDZ96dtDU)

Sources:

Kristin D. Phillips. “Hunger, Healing, and Citizenship in Central Tanzania.” African Studies Review 52.1 (2009): 23-45.

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One response to “Violence via Desperation

  1. ilysekoletsky ⋅

    I liked how you pointed out the three tier system. It’s unbelievable to think that if you can buy a little grain you would get absolutely no aid. Here in the US we look at malnutrition and how some people can only afford the Mc Donalds dollar menu. But the dollar menu is no comparison to scraps of grain. That would be a luxury for them.

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