Climate conditions aren’t solely to blame for current famine in Africa
In late February, the United Nations declared parts of South Sudan to be in a state of famine, the first time the UN has used that declaration since a horrible famine engulfed Somalia six years ago in 2011. Now there are concerns that famine will spread in two other places in Africa—Nigeria and Somalia. Famine is often associated with drought, but climate conditions aren’t the whole story. As with a lot of human problems, it’s more complicated than that.
You may have noticed that drought, lack of rainfall, high temperatures, or really anything related to weather and climate aren’t mentioned within the famine definitions. That is because famine is about food security and scarcity. Drought can certainly be a cause of and contribute to that scarcity. So can too much rain and flooding, which can destroy crops and keep food from reaching markets. But climate extremes aren’t the only reasons the food supply gets interrupted.