Famine relief

From Academic Kids



Charity work to aid the starving has developed from religious alms in previous centuries to organised charities in the modern day.

Originally rich and poor were less starkly defined than today. The balance of wealth in the world has changed, largely as a result of European colonisation of the rest of the world and subsequent Eurocentric hegemony. Even the United States of America, born of ex-European colonies, continues to spread and reinforce the value systems of the Europeanization of the world. This Europeanization has played a major part in polarising the world into rich and poor regions often referred to as the 'first world' and the 'third world'. The missing 'second world' would, theoretically refer to the communist countries, of which there are a lot less than there were when these terms were first coined.


At the height of the European empire period in the 19th century the inadequacy of existing government or religious organisations to deal with famine was clearly seen when a potato blight combined with trade restrictions led to a large-scale famine in Ireland. The Irish Potato Famine, as it came to be called, saw inadequate attempts at famine relief from both government and private sources. Poverty and starvation were widespread in parts of India and Africa throughout the 19th century and this continued to be the case in the 20th century.

Communist countries claimed to be concerned with redistributing world wealth to help the poor and starving but, in fact, failing harvests in the Soviet Union in 1932 led to famine there too.

A major factor the Irish and Soviet famines have in common is the impact of enforced economic philosophical systems limiting the possibilities for a solution. The 1930s New Deal reforms of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt by which he had tried to relieve the suffering of the American poor and starving were limited in their effect by a philosophical system imposed by the Supreme Court but, in spite of this, he was still able help millions back into work.

In 1942 a British charity, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (later called Oxfam) was set up to high-light the problems created by the Nazi occupation of Greece, and to request that relief be sent to those in most urgent need. Since then Oxfam has developed into an international organisation helping to relieve poverty and starvation on a large scale.

In 1948 American President Harry Truman signed into law the Marshall Plan, granting economic and technical assistance toward the recovery of 16 European countries in exchange for the acceptance of economic liberalism (or the rejection of Communism). The Cold War had begun.

On August 1 1971 Ex-Beatles member George Harrison enlisted the aid of fellow musicians Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan and many more in a Concert at Madison Square Garden to raise money for Bangladesh famine relief. More than 40,000 people attended.

In 1984 Irish musician Bob Geldof and Scottish Ultravox member Midge Ure organised a charity fundraiser record for the starving of Africa. Under the name of Band Aid, they collected together most of the singers then making the British pop charts and got them singing together on one record for charity. The ensemble was: Adam Clayton & Bono (U2), Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Steve Norman, Martin Kemp, Tony Hadley, John Keeble & Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Chris Cross & Midge Ure (Ultravox), John Taylor, Simon Le Bon, Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor & Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Paul Young, Glenn Gregory & Martin Ware (Heaven 17), Simon Crowe, Marilyn, Keren Woodward, Sarah Dullin & Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Jody Watley, Paul Weller, James Taylor, George Michael, Peter Briquette, Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt (Status Quo), Robert 'Kool' Bell, Dennis Thomas, Jon Moss & Boy George (Culture Club), Sting, Johnny Fingers, David Bowie, Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Paul McCartney. The song was called "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

The following year, 1985, Geldof and Ure followed up their success with a large-scale concert: Live Aid. This led to other fundraising famine relief projects such as Sport Aid and Comic Relief.

Modern Relief

Today, the Peace Corps, Christian groups, and charities feed hungry people all over the world, especially in countries hardest hit by famine. In addition to giving them food, they teach the hungry to grow their own food crops, so that they can feed themselves. This makes them independent of the USA and other countries that donate food for famine relief. In some environments (such as the desert, rocky areas, or cold wastelands) farming is difficult to impossible. Such land is called unarable. This is why famine repeats in those areas. New methods have been invented to grow food crops in these difficult areas. These new methods include: nitrogen fertilizer, hybrid food crops, digging wells, reverse osmosis water processors to turn salty ocean water into fresh water, greenhouses, hydroponics, canal digging, dirt hill walls stacking for protection against wind and dust, mylar insulation, and sustainable agriculture.

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