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This study is about famine prevention in Ethiopia. Famines, in the case-study country, are often described as situations where a large number of people are faced with extreme scarcity of food with a resultant wide-spread mortality. But it was quite uncommon for famines to be typified as situations where large-scale mortality occurred because large sectors of a population were faced with an extreme scarcity of purchasing power, until it was shown to be so in the case of the Wello (1972 -73) famine in Ethiopia.1 The former approach envisages famines as a case of food availability decline (FAD), while according to the latter (entitlements approach), famines are not necessarily a case of food availability, but rather of peoples' command over available food. Broadly speaking, the above represent the two competing perceptions of famines as they relate to the case-study country.2 The two approaches essentially imply different policy prescriptions. The food centred approach, FAD, necessarily focuses on strategies for making more food available, while the entitlements approach implies interventions designed to augment the incomes of the vulnerable groups in the society. The subsequent discussions were inspired by the latter view.


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