Climate and Physical Influences of Famine

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One recent famine occurred in Ethiopia in 2015, where physical factors played a major role. Famine is defined as long-term hunger affecting over 20% of the population in an area. Physical factors are factors that make up the natural environment through its features, processes and patterns. One of the key features influencing the occurrence of famine in Ethiopia is its climate. Ethiopia is an extremely hot country where even in the coldest of months the average temperatures don’t fall beneath 25 degrees Celsius. Such extreme temperatures affect the production of crops negatively as only a limited variability can be cultivated. The temperature also affects cattle upkeep of which is more difficult. Those factors make achieving food security much more difficult. Another climate related reason is the rainfall that occurs only seasonally. Due to low precipitation in some seasons and heavy rainfall in others, farming is also hampered. Because of its location, Ethiopia is susceptible to phenomena such as La Nina or El Nino, that cause severe droughts or severe flooding.

What affects the occurrence of famine is also the location. Ethiopia is a land-locked country. Firstly, it makes any sort of sea transportation nearly impossible, which affect Ethiopia’s economic growth, which is one of the causes for Ethiopia’s poor status. Poor economy leads to poor preparation for famine, poor farming technology and other factors that cause lower yields and worse readiness. Ethiopia’s sub-par location also limits the availability of aid necessary when dealing with a famine. Most aid would be transported by cargo ships, but since Ethiopia is landlocked it is much more difficult.

An argument, relating to both climate and location, is natural hazards. The importance of this can not be stressed enough. Natural hazards are the downfall of men. They cause destruction of property and loss of life. Due to Ethiopia’s location they are prone to floods and droughts. Floods destroy crops, food reserves and houses, but they also can kill cattle or even humans. Droughts destroy crops and limit the access to water which is a necessary human need. That’s why natural hazards are a huge contributor to famine.

The final physical factor is the presence of natural resources. Ethiopia has reserves of gold, potash, platinum, copper and natural gas; yet they are unable to make use of them due to lack of technology caused by widespread poverty. But even if the resources could be accessed, another issue arises – it would still have to be transported out of the country – which was covered extensively in the previous argument. That’s why Ethiopia needs to rely on what they make out of it, instead of the natural riches. Overall, physical factors play an enormous role in the causation of famine in countries such as Ethiopia. Climate, location, natural resources and natural hazards are all responsible for the increased chances of famine occurring and smaller chances of winning the fight against it.

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