"Famine in a Time of Declining Global Hunger: Why is famine recurring in the 21st Century?"

October 25, 2017 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Monsanto Room, ACES Library

As part of the "Right to Food, Food Assistance, and the Biological Consequences of Malnutrition" Seminar Series co-sponsored by the Division of Nutritional Sciences and International Food Security at Illinois.

Famines killed 70 million people during the 20th century, but with declining frequency and dramatically lowered scope, famines seemed to be a thing of the past. Both the prevalence of food insecurity and the absolute numbers of people suffering chronic hunger have dropped slowly but steadily since the end of the early 1990s. Severe but limited crises in South Sudan and Eastern Ethiopia at the turn of the century seemed to spell the end of famines. Then in 2011, famine killed over a quarter of a million people in Somalia, and is 2016-17, there are four (some would say five) countries on a famine watch-list, and it appears that famines did occur in limited areas in at least two of these countries (Nigeria and South Sudan). Are these coincidental, one-off events, or is famine a resurgent phenomenon in the 21st Century? This presentation will give a brief overview of Somalia in 2011, and the current famine-watch crises to draw out common themes, reflect on what has changed and what has been learned about contemporary famines, and what is unique about famine prevention and response.

About the Speaker: Dr. Dan Maxwell leads the research program on food security and livelihoods in complex emergencies at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University. He works with governments, humanitarian agencies, and affected communities at the grass roots, national, and regional levels to build the evidence base for improved humanitarian and resilience programming and policy. He developed the coping strategies index (CSI), one of the most commonly used food security indicators that enables governments and NGOs responding to crises to quickly understand the food security status of large numbers of people.

From 2008–2011, he served as the chair of the Department of Food and Nutrition Policy at the Friedman School. Prior to joining Tufts, Dan spent twenty years in leadership positions with international NGOs and research institutes. He was deputy regional director for CARE International in Eastern and Central Africa, Rockefeller Post-Doctoral Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, and worked for the Mennonite Central Committee for ten years in Tanzania and Uganda.

He holds a B.Sc. from Wilmington College, a master’s degree from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.