Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation

By Amartya Sen | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 7
The Ethiopian Famine

7.1
THE FAMINE 1972-4

The first recorded famine in Ethiopia goes back to the ninth century. Between 1540 and 1742 there were, apparently, more than ten major farnines.1 The so-called 'great Ethiopian famine' hit the country during 1888-92, killing off possibly a third of the total population,2 and it is still remembered as kifu qan (evil days). In comparison with the great Ethiopian famine, the famine that Ethiopia experienced in 1972-4 might appear to be a moderate affair, with mortality estimates varying between 50,000 and 200,000, in a population of about 27 million.3 But as Aykroyd ( 1974) puts it, 'a death toll of perhaps over 100,000' is 'inexcusable at this stage in the history of famine' (p. 203).

The province that was hit hardest by the famine was Wollo in the north-east of Ethiopia, but it also affected the province of Tigrai, further north, and some of the rest of the country, e.g. Harerghe.4 For Wollo the famine reached its peak in 1973, and recovery was well under way by the end of that year. The same is true of Tigrai, the other northern province affected by the famine (though much less affected). But for Harerghe the famine came into its own only in 1974. In a sense, there were really two Ethiopian famines during this period: the first in 1972-3 with its focus on north-east, especially Wollo, and the second in 1973-4 affecting mainly some provinces further south, particularly

____________________
1
Zewde ( 1976), p. 52. See also Pankhurst ( 1961).
2
See Pankhurst ( 1966).
3
The lower of the two limits, viz. 40,000, comes from the estimate of 'total deaths due to famine between 40,000 and 80,000', suggested by Miller and Holt ( 1975), p. 171, but refers primarily to the first phase of the famine. The higher of the two limits, viz. 200,000, represents mortality estimates presented in Shepherd ( 1975), which Gebre-Medhin and Vahlquist ( 1977) suggest 'is hardly an exaggeration' (p. 197). For the total period 1972-5, Rivers, Holt, Seaman, and Bowden ( 1976) estimate 'an excess of at least 100,000 deaths due to starvation and associated diseases' (p. 355).
4
According to the figures given by the Ethiopian Relief and Rehabilitation Commission ( 1975), the proportion of 'affected' population in late 1973 was 41 per cent for Wollo, 17 per cent for Tigrai, 8 per cent for Harerghe, 2.6 per cent for Shewa, 0.8 per cent for Gemu Gofa, and negligible for the other provinces. See Hussein ( 1976), p. 45.

-86-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 257

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?