“After the Briefest Respite,

Africa Faces Starvation Again”

Sheila Rule

The New York Times

December 20, 1987



On the heels of 3 years of famine in Africa, recovery is stalled by drought and “armed conflicts”.  These armed conflicts are usually reduced by Mrs. Rule to rebel actions against the government.  However, Rule does recognize fundamental economic problems with the African governments.  She points to foreign debt that has forced the production of cash crops over foodstuffs.  She indicates that government policies have favored domestic consumers instead of producers thus causing a falloff in production.  She also introduces a sort of neo-Malthusian idea of population outstripping the ability of the land to produce.  The only potential for good news to relieving the debt is exporting commodities like gold and diamonds; however, with the global recession this is not a possibility.

            With the weaknesses of the African governments, any short-term domestic solution was unlikely.  Only significant outside intervention could save millions from starvation on a continent that could once feed itself.  Paul Mitchell, chief of public affairs for the World Food Program, was unusually insightful when he was quoted as saying, “Ideology does not have much to do with what is going on now, although certainly approaches by some governments, capitalist and Marxist, have had an adverse impact on agricultural production.”  Governments have ignored the needs of their people and now their people are starving regardless of the political system they utilize.


~Matt Culler