Catching Famine Early

Chinese officials engaged in famine relief, 19...

Chinese officials engaged in famine relief, 19th C. engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Famine Early Warning and Early Action: The Cost of Delay
Rob Bailey

Chatham House
July 2012

Famines are tragedies that have been with mankind since before recorded history. What is different today, however, is that there are a growing number of systems and tripwires that can warn the world when and where a famine will strike long before it does.

The problem, finds Chatham House’s Rob Bailey, is that such warnings are greeted not by action on the part of NGOs and the UN, but delay and prevarication. Examining past cases, Bailey isolates why, despite advanced notice, people were allowed to die, and he offers a blueprint to improving the process between warning and response.

With China’s growing appetite and the specter of global warming hovering over the world’s agricultural output during this long, hot summer, Bailey’s could not have come at a more apt time.

Climate Change: What About the Crops?

Rice Farmer, Cambodia

Image by Jonathan Burr via Flickr

Food Security and Climate Change in the Pacific: Rethinking the Options
Asian Development Bank
September 2011

In the debates around climate change, one of the frequently overlooked issues is what will happen to the food security of specific nations should temperatures rise enough to dislocate cultivated crops and alter fishing and livestock patterns. It would, indeed, seem a minor matter compared to the nightmare scenario of inundation.

Yet apocalyptic Waterworld predictions aside, crops and livestock are sensitive to temperature changes, and this is a matter of concern for countries of all sizes, even landlocked ones. This book offers some basic policy suggestions to help the nations of the APAC region, from the Pacific islands states to mainland Asia, prepare for the uncertain consequences of climate change.

Food Security Assessment 2010-20

Food security, the question of where and to whom food is available in the world, is becoming one of the touchstone issues in the entire debate about sustainability and population. This USDA report looks at the issue over the next 10 years, and sees regional improvements – and disturbing regional declines.

Anyone interested in Africa – or China’s policy there – would do well to peruse this pdf book, particularly as China starts looking to Africa to potentially provide foodstuffs for Asia.