The Politics of Famine
A common misconception is that hunger crises are about a lack of food. In Northern Kenya, where an estimated half a million Kenyan children and pregnant or breast-feeding women suffer acute malnutrition, there is food but the real issue is poverty. In April the World Bank reported that 44 million people worldwide were pushed over the edge by skyrocketing food prices — a perspective largely missing in the US food-aid program, which had committed about $64 million to Kenya by the end of June, much of it in the form of food supplies. But food aid loses at least half of its value, according to the Government Accountability Office, because we ship actual food instead of sending cash for local purchase, like most countries. Worse, Congressional Republicans voted to cut the foreign food aid budget by a third this past summer, and more cuts are planned.