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This famine mainly occurred due to poor weather and policy mistakes by Mao Zedong.



∙ Bengal Famine (1770) – 10 million people died

∙ Ukrainian Famine (1921-1922) - ~ 9 million people died  ∙ Chinese ‘Great Leap Forward’ Famine - ~ 30-45 million died ∙ Ethiopian Famine (1983 – 1985) – 300,000 people died. ∙ Sudanese Famine

∙ North Korean Famine

∙ Southern Africa Famine

∙ Niger Famine


∙ In the 1990s, 100,000 – 200,000 people died every year from starvation which is much lower compared to the past where  millions died in a single famine.  

∙ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that about 7  million children younger than 5 years of age die every year.  3.1 million of those die directly from hunger and most of the  deaths are caused due to causes indirectly related to hunger (like diseases).

What are the ways to prevent mass starvation?

∙ The 795 million undernourished people that live today are  mostly found in under-developed countries.  

∙ Even though the population of the world is growing, the  number of undernourished people is falling. 

∙ Since 1990, the number undernourished people fell by 200  million. Since 1960, the number of hungry people has fallen  by 230 million in Asia alone.

∙ Undernourished people also decreased in African countries  like Ghana and Nigeria.

∙ However, the number of hungry people in Africa increased  by 100 million since 1960s and by 50 million since 1990s.


∙ Four P’s: 

o Population: More population means more demand for  food. If you want to learn more check out paul canning uconn,0,22020-01-23,https://studysoup.com/guide/258856/compiled-here-is-the-online-quizzes-and-reading-summaries-the-ch-8-quiz-has-not-yet-been-included-because-the-due-date-is-not-set,_____ was just a sophomore when he began building compute

o Prosperity: More prosperity means more income and  more food demand. As poor people escape poverty,  they will also demand more food.

A substance obtained from food which contributes to a person’s mental and physical growth.

o Pollution: More pollution decreases the supply of food. o Productivity in agriculture: More productivity increases  the supply of food.

∙ Government policies can also affect demand and supply of  food in the long run.



∙ Irish Potato Famine (late 1840s): About 33% of Irish  depended on potatoes for food. When the potato blight (a  fungus that causes potatoes to turn black and rot) caused  the potato crop to fail in 1846, 1848, and 1849, about  290,000 to 1,250,000 people died.

∙ Ukrainian Famine (1932-1933): The Soviet Union was a  centrally-planned state which meant that the state could do  anything it wanted to do. In 1929, Stalin introduced  collectivization of agriculture. This meant that whatever a  farm produced went to the state. This system was  implemented to provide the urban centers of the Soviet  Union ample food supplies. Due to this, the farmers of  Ukraine (part of Soviet Union at that time) who produced  food at the first place didn’t have anything to eat and about If you want to learn more check out comm 223

6-8 million Ukrainians starved to death. This is an example of a man-made famine.  

∙ Chinese ‘Great Leap Forward’ Famine (1959-1961): This  famine mainly occurred due to poor weather and policy  mistakes by Mao Zedong. We also discuss several other topics like thermodynamics exam 1

∙ Sudan Famine: This famine was caused by the Sudanese  Civil War in which about 3.5 million needed emergency food  aid and 1.3 were displaced from their homes.

∙ North Korean Famine (1994-1998) – This famine mainly  occurred due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union which  provided food supplies to North Korea and due to severe  droughts. An estimated 2-3 million people died.

∙ Southern Africa Famine - It occurred in 2002-2003 due to  poor weather conditions in countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, and Mozambique. In Zimbabwe  the famine conditions were made even worse by a land  redistribution process which further decreased production of  maize and cereals. Don't forget about the age old question of trepir


∙ Difference between crop failure, famine, and mass  starvation:

o Crop failure – It can lead to food shortage if it occurs for at least one season and over a large area.

o Famine – Food shortages can lead to famines if they are severe enough and temporary.

o Mass starvation – It occurs when food shortages are not compensated with food supplies from outside.  

∙ Famine is unavoidable due to poor soil, variable weather,  poverty, etc. but mass starvation is easily avoidable if there  is an adequate response to famine.

∙ Areas with chronic food shortages don’t experience mass  starvation because they become used to those conditions. ∙ Famine is usually suffered by:

o People whose crops fail

o People whose source of income becomes inadequate or  people who can’t afford food due to increased prices  which happens due to limited supply of it.


∙ Waiting till the famine is at its peak to respond is the worst kind of response.

∙ Ways to prevent mass starvation:

o Better governance – It means to have a government  which cares for its population and which knows what’s  happening in its own country

o Early warning and rapid response – Early warning  means to know when and where food shortage is going  to happen beforehand. The US governments uses  FEWSNET (Famine Early Warning Systems Network)  which monitors food prices and conditions around the  world to predict food shortages. Rapid response means  the ability to prepare food in advance so it can provided when needed. We also discuss several other topics like laurel travis virginia tech

o Aggregate food availability – It means to have more  food everywhere.  

o Distribution policies – The government should allow  normal transportation of food from places where there  is a plenty to places where food is needed.

o Stabilization policies – The government should help  people in storing food from one year (when there is  more food) to another (when there is less food).  


∙ Theses 8 goals were set by the UN and all 191 member  states agreed to try and achieve these goals by 2015. The  declaration was signed in 2000 and goals started to take  force in 2005.  

∙ Goals: 

o Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

 Target 1: Halve between 1990 and 2015, the  proportion of people is less than $1 per day.

 Target 2: Halve between 1990 and 2015, the  proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

o Achieve universal primary education:  

 Target 3: Ensure that, by 2015, children  

everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to  complete a full course of primary schooling.

o Promote gender equality and empower women  Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary  and secondary education by 2005 and in all levels  of education by 2015.

o Reduce child mortality  

 Target 5: Reduce by two-thirds the under-five  mortality rate between 1990 and 2015.

o Improve maternal health

 Target 6: Reduce by three-quarters the maternal  mortality ratio between 1990 and 2015.

o Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases  Target 7: Have halted by 2015 and begun to  reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. Don't forget about the age old question of psychology major tulane

 Target 8: Have halted by 2015 and begun to  reverse the incidence of malaria and other major  diseases.

o Ensure environmental sustainability

 Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable  development into country policies and program  and reverse the loss of environmental resources.

 Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of  people without sustainable access to safe drinking  water and basic sanitation.

 Target 11: Have achieved, by 2020, a significant  improvement in the lives of at least 100 million  slum dwellers.

o Develop a global partnership for development

 Target 12: Develop further an open, rule-based,  predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and  

financial system (includes a commitment to good  governance, development, and poverty reduction  both nationally and internationally).

 Target 13: Address the special needs of the least  developed countries (includes tariff-and quota-free access for exports enhanced program of debt relief for HIPC and cancellation of official bilateral debt,  and more generous ODA for countries committed  

to poverty reduction).

 Target 14: Address the special needs of  

landlocked countries and small island developing  

states (through the Program of Action for the  

Sustainable Development of Small Island  

Developing States and 22nd General Assembly  


 Target 15: Deal comprehensively with the debt  problems of developing countries through national  and international measures in order to make debt  sustainable in the long term.

 Target 16: In cooperation with developing  

countries, develop and implement strategies for  

decent and productive work for youth.

 Target 17: In cooperation with pharmaceutical  companies, provide access to affordable, essential  drugs in developing countries.

 Target 18: In cooperation with the private sector,  make available the benefits of new technologies,  

especially information and communications.

(Source: unicef.org)


∙ ODA is term for any aid given to foreign countries  (underdeveloped and developing countries) by the  developed countries of the world.  

∙ US is the largest donor and Scandinavian countries like  Sweden are the most generous (highest ODA as a  percentage of their gross national income).  

∙ The UN has set a goal for the developed countries to  contribute 0.70 percent of their GNI (gross national income).  However, only a few countries have met this goal.



∙ Nutrient - A substance obtained from food which  contributes to a person’s mental and physical growth.  Different types of nutrient include:

o Water

o Vitamins

o Minerals

o Carbohydrates

o Proteins  

o Fats

∙ Malnutrition – When a person consumes too much or too  less of a nutrient. It is of four types:

o Overnutrition  

o Undernutrition

o Dietary deficiency

o Secondary Malnutrition


∙ Overnutrition – When a person consumes too many  calories.

∙ This isn’t a problem in the poor parts of the world. This is a  problem in high-income countries like the US since their diet  is full of calories, salt, sugar, and saturated fats.  

Overnutrition causes obesity and other health related  problems like cardiac diseases.  


∙ Secondary malnutrition - Not due to lack of food, but due  to inability to absorb nutrients from food. Common causes of this type of malnutrition are:

o Diarrhea

o Respiratory illness

o Measles

o Intestinal Parasites

∙ Providing clean drinking water and proper waste disposal can help reduce secondary malnutrition.


∙ Dietary deficiency (Micronutrient malnutrition) – A diet lacking in at least one micronutrient like vitamins or  minerals.

The main types of micronutrient malnutrition are:

∙ Vitamin A deficiency: Causes night blindness  (Xerophthalmia) and death from respiratory and  gastrointestinal diseases.  

∙ Iodine deficiency: Causes cretinism (learning disability in children), goiter, and decrease in mental abilities and  IQ.

∙ Iron deficiency (Anemia): Causes tiredness, decreases  capacity to work, and increases vulnerability to infections.

∙ Vitamin D deficiency: Causes rickets (soft bones). ∙ Vitamin C deficiency: Causes scurvy.

∙ Vitamin B deficiency: Beri-beri and Pellagra.

∙ Zinc deficiency: Impaired immune function, cognitive  dysfunction.

∙ Solutions to Micronutrient Malnutrition:  

o Vitamin supplements

o Food fortification

o Eating a wide variety of foods

o Knowledge

o Reducing poverty

o Improvements in health


∙ Undernutrition (Macronutrient malnutrition) – Also  called PCM (Protein-calorie malnutrition) or PEM (Protein energy malnutrition). It is caused by lack of either proteins or calories.

∙ Proteins and calories are called macronutrients and they can  only be gotten from food. They can’t be obtained by using  supplements.

∙ Protein deficiency can cause Kwashiorkor and Marasmus.

 Role of protein Role of Calories

∙ Build cells Help in growth of body ∙ Carry oxygen in the body Fight diseases

∙ Carry nutrients in and out of Required for mental  activities

cells and help assimilate food  

∙ Aid in development of Required for involuntary  functions


∙ Act as enzymes that catalyzes Required for physical  activities  

the digestion process  

∙ Calories come into the food when plants transform  solar energy into energy which can be used by our  body.

∙ Proteins come into the food chain by the following  ways:

o Nitrogen-fixing bacteria: In leguminous plants  like peas and beans, there is a suitable  

environment on the roots for the bacteria which  fix nitrogen usable by the plants. This nitrogen  is used by the plants to make amino acids and  thus, proteins.

o Blue-green algae: The nitrogen fixed by algae is  not available to plants useful for humans.

o Lightning storms: Lightning strikes can fix  

bacteria into the soil which are used by the  

plants to make amino acids.

∙ 20 amino acids exist which when combined in  different combinations make up proteins used by our  body.

∙ 9 essential amino acids can’t be produced by our  body hence must come from food.

∙ Complete Protein - Food containing all the 9 essential amino acids in adequate proportions required for the  human body.

∙ Animal products like Milk, eggs, and meat are  complete proteins. 

∙ Plant products lack in at least one essential amino  acid or contain them in very low concentration. ∙ Calorie deficiency is a bigger problem than protein  deficiency.

∙ Recommended daily intake of calories for an  American (adolescents and adults):

o 2,618 calories for men 

o 1,877 calories for women 

∙ However, recommended calorie intake is different for each person as it depends on age, weight, height,  and physical activity. 

∙ Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of a nutrient is  the level of a nutrient at which 97-98% of a group will be adequately nourished. It is a good measure to  check if a person is getting enough nutrition.  However, it isn’t useful as a target for average intake of a group. 

∙ Estimated average requirement (EAR) is the daily  intake amount of a nutrient that will be adequate for  half the individuals in the group.

(Source: researchgate.net)



∙ When talking about undernutrition, we measure nutrition  levels to find:

o Location of the problem

o Extent of help, if there is help

∙ To solve the problem of malnutrition, we must design and  implement a policy.

∙ Policy cycle:

1. Measure

2. Identify the problem  

3. Design a policy to solve the problem

4. Undertake the policy

5. Re-measure

∙ When we need to figure out how much of a nutrient should  one have, we use reference groups where every person in  this group is similar and has similar nutrient requirements.


∙ Distribution of random variable is a theoretical property  whereas distribution of sample or population is based on a  real population. Statisticians know a lot about distribution of  random variable and when it is like the distribution of sample or population, they can apply the thing they know to the  sample distribution.

∙ A probability distribution is theoretical, whereas a histogram which shows frequencies is real. A probability distribution  can also be called a normal distribution.

∙ Important statistical terms:

o Mean – Sum of all values divided by the number of  values

o Median – The value which divides the values in the  sample in two halves where values in one half are  larger than the median and the values in the other half  are smaller than the median.

o Percentile – A number Q such that Q % of the values in  the sample are less than or equal to the Qth percentile.   Percentile: n = (N/100)*P + ½ where,  

∙ n is the rank

∙ N is the number of observations

∙ P is the percentile

o Standard deviation – This is a measure of the spread or  how far are the values away from the average. It is  calculated by:

 Finding the mean

 Subtracting the mean from each value  

 Squaring the resulting numbers

 Adding all these numbers

 Dividing by the size of the sample

 Taking the square root

∙ Facts about normal distribution: 

o Mean = Median

o Mean + 1 Standard Deviation = 84th percentile

o Mean – 1 Standard Deviation = 16th percentile

o 95% of the observations fall in the interval : mean – 2  standard deviations and mean + 2 standard deviation.


∙ To study nutrition levels of people, we can:

o Study characteristics of a reference population 

o Create estimates of “normal” nutritional and  

anthropometric characteristics of this population

o Compare the characteristics of people who we want to  know about to those of the reference population

∙ Reference population – A group of healthy people with a wide variety of characteristics against which a person’s traits can  be compared. Generally the age and gender of the people in  reference population has to be same of that of the person  who is being compared.

∙ Anthropometric measurements:

o Weight for height

o Weight for age

o Height for age

o Body Mass Index (BMI)

o Fat content of upper arm

∙ Anthropometric measurements are used to compare the  nutritional status of people with the reference population.  Each type of these measurements indicates a different type  of problem. Low height for age indicates protein deficiency  and low weight for age indicates calorie deficiency.

∙ Wasting – Low weight for age which indicates recent or  current undernutrition (mainly calories).

∙ Stunting – Low height for age which indicates past  undernutrition (mainly proteins).

∙ Gomez Weight for Age – Median weight for age (from  reference population)

o Not malnourished if weight of child > 90% of median  child weight for that age

o First degree malnutrition (mildly malnourished) if  weight of child < 90% but > 75% of median child  weight for that age

o Second degree malnutrition (moderately malnourished)  if weight of child > 60% but < 75% of median child  weight for that age.

o Third degree malnutrition (severely malnourished) if  weight of child < 60% of median child weight for that  age.

∙ Shakir Arm Circumference – Since height of children (1-5  years of age) is hard to measure, we can use their arm  circumference to determine their nutritional status. o Reference arm circumference: 16.5 cm

o Normal arm circumference: >14.5 cm

o Undernourished child arm circumference: 12.5 – 14.5  cm

o Severely undernourished child arm circumference: <  12.5 cm

∙ Z-Score – Number of standard deviations away from the  average. A Z-score of -1 means the value is one standard  deviation away from mean.

∙ Anthropometric measurements are relatively inexpensive ways to measure nutritional status and poverty. However,  they aren’t as accurate as more expensive methods. Hence,  there is a trade-off between the cost of the method and its  accuracy.

∙ For example, a doctor can examine each person individually  for signs of malnutrition, but it is very expensive. Therefore,  a doctor is only reserved for treating people. Data collection  is done by someone else since it is cheaper and reasonably  


∙ Biochemical Assessment – When a detailed survey is  needed from a sample population to measure the impact of a policy, a biochemical assessment like blood and urine tests  are needed.  

∙ Dietary Assessment – We can also measure the amount of food a person consumes and compare it to the standard

amount. However, it is very difficult due to the following  reasons:

o Most of the times, food is consumed in a household  setting. So, it is hard to determine who eats what and  how much.

o People don’t remember what food they eat even  yesterday.

o Seasonal food shortages, in children, is very dangerous  and hence we must keep track of their food intake over  a long period of time.

o Seasonal variations in food intake for adults is common, hence we must not make conclusions about their diet  from one season only.

o It is a very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming  method.

∙ The more intensive methods to determine nutritional status  are:

o Only appropriate in research

o Causes problems with protection of human subject rules and ethics

o Not a good way to find trends over large populations ∙ Data which indicate malnutrition:

o Low birth weight 

o High infant mortality rates 

o Food balance sheets 


∙ Age of Menarche: When girls don’t get enough nutrition,  their age of first menarche (menstruation) is delayed. It also  delays the ovulation after pregnancy. It is a good thing  because it reduces fertility since malnourished girls are not  ready for pregnancy.

∙ Child mortality also increases due to malnutrition. Children  not only starve and die but die from diseases due to  malnutrition.

∙ IQ and productivity: Undernutrition can impair the cognitive  impairment of children which makes learning harder for  them. Low levels of iodine, iron, and protein in children will  hinder their learning and decrease their IQ.

∙ Iodine deficiency is the number one avoidable cause of  mental retardation.

∙ If a malnourished person’s condition is improved by giving  food or supplements, his/her productivity is increased. ∙ One of the best ways to escape hunger is to work harder so  that you gain more income. However, if the person is  hungry, he can’t work harder as he is too weak, and he can’t  escape hunger. This is known as a development trap. ∙ Traps have the following two characteristics:

o People can’t escape their current conditions on their  own.

o It is possible to escape their current condition.

∙ A person can escape poverty trap (development trap) when  he gets some outside help only. By outside help, we mean a  poor person should get a lot of help at one time so he  escapes the trap forever and doesn’t require anyone’s help.


∙ The quantity of food per person is at the highest level in  history even though the population of the world is growing. ∙ The highest number of undernourished people are in Asia  and specifically in South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan,  etc.)

∙ Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of their  population who are undernourished.

∙ The seasonality of undernutrition is linked to the agricultural  year in the third-world. Planting crops is rainfall dependent  and crops are generally planted at the start of the wet  season. They are harvested about 4 months later. About six  months after the crop is harvested, food supplies begin to

finish, and hungry season starts till the crop can be  harvested the next year.

∙ Children are most vulnerable to undernutrition, especially  when they make the transition from a diet of only breast milk to a completely non-breast milk diet. Pregnant and lactating  women and elderly women are also vulnerable. During  famines, the general population is also affected.

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