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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Indigenous knowledge and famine relief in the Horn of Africa
Author:Walker, Peter J.C.
Book title:The cultural dimension of development: indigenous knowledge systems
Geographic terms:Sudan
indigenous technology
Abstract:An analysis of the way aid agencies respond to famine leads to the inevitable conclusion that famine is seen as a nutritional crisis brought about by a general scarcity of food and alleviated by an injection of food. But does this diagnosis and remedy square up with the victims' perception of what is happening to them? Do victims and aid agency share a common analysis of famine causes and the purpose of famine relief? For the relief agency, famine is typified as a crisis, one which requires a 'fire fighting approach'. But for most at-risk communities, famine is seen as a process which may end in crisis and which can be tackled by a series of strategies, usually aimed at safeguarding the long term rather than short term future. This is well exemplified by the way famines are defined by those who suffer them. This article describes the different stages famine victims in Wollo province, Ethiopia, and in West Sudan experience and the different survival strategies they apply during these stages. The conclusion is that relief agencies should intervene between stages one and two, when famine victims shift from using reversible, non-asset stripping strategies, to nonreversible ones which cut into their long-term options, and not, as is at present the standard practice, at the junction of stages three and four.