What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, October 18, 2010

World Food Day, and what it means

October 16 was the World Food Day, and people in Paris did this in order to make you notice:
Photo: Thibault Camus (AP)
They called this the "hunger banquet," and the point was that nothing was served there.
Now, in Afghanistan, according to 2007/2008 data used by the World Food Programme there are over 7.4 million people facing a critical lack of food security (and there are more on the brink). War, destruction of the infrastructure, drought, the unsustainable and desperate exploitation of natural resources, and recently the food price crisis have all contributed to this. The latest development is that the floods in Pakistan this year also caused the loss and the diversion of a significant amount of food aid originally headed for Afghanistan where winter is coming and WFP was facing a 40% shortfall in funding to begin with. All reasons why FAO, the Food and Agricultural Organisation has Afghanistan shortlisted along with 21 other countries as particularly severe, protracted crises.
The scary aspect of this is that I am not sure what the prospect of famines or mass starvation in Afghanistan means today to the average Western observer. I have only the assumption that some are deeply troubled by it, while others may think that primarily the war should be ended, costs what it costs, and then humanitarian aid could somehow be delivered more easily than now in a deal with whoever is in power. But of course one has serious doubts about whether that indeed would be the case: in fact it is hard to believe. And so one wonders when thinking back to the post-9/11 critical discourse about how supposedly one needs to tackle root causes and not just hunt after terrorists... Remember French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine for example, lecturing Americans about the need to do so? Are people ready to tackle root causes? Like factors that contribute to, say, bringing rural religious militias to power in lands emptied of intellectual capital via exmigration? I know, "root causes" can be defined in many ways, fitting anyone's agenda.

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