The prevention and mitigation of famine: policy lessons from Botswana and Sudan.
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Botswana and Sudan experienced consecutive years of drought in the 1980s. Sudan faced a large decline in food entitlement and nutritional deterioration, which translated into famine in 1984/85. Botswana, on the other hand, nearly compensated income losses and averted nutritional deterioration and famine-related deaths. There are important lessons to learn from the famine prevention experience of Botswana. Its strategy for dealing with drought and famine combines policies of steady economic growth with supplementary poverty alleviation and drought relief programs. To provide continuity and stabilization of market operations in times of distress, the country channels sufficient food through market chains, provides price support to pre-empt market collapse and augments the income of consumers through public income transfer programs to prevent demand failure. In addition, it maintains a responsive and accountable political system and a decentralized participatory administrative structure. While Sudan should develop policies that are compatible with its own environment, it is crucial that it recognizes the critical role of public action in promoting growth, alleviating poverty, and providing timely relief responses in times of anticipated growth failure.
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