| Measuring drought and drought impacts in Red Sea Province |
|4. Drought, the market, and the impact of food aid in Red Sea Province, 1980 to 1989. Roy Cole|
Since the Sahel drought of the 1970s analysts of drought and food stress have come a long way in the understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to food stress and mortality in Africa These economic, social, political, or environmental processes acting alone or together may originate from the local, national, or international levels or from a combination of levels. The present paper is concerned with one causal element of all the possible elements that could be examined: drought and price inflation.
Drought-induced cereal price inflation and the consequent turning of the terms of trade against livestock was the principal mechanism identified in Red Sea Province that upset existing exchange entitlements and contributed to higher than normal mortality rates among the rural Beja populations. The terms of trade of goats to sorghum declined from about one to one in the very early 1980s to about six to one in 1984 according to a report by Oxfam (1987). The present paper was written to as a result of new data collection since 1986 and is an attempt to synthesise those data collected in the past with the new data. The study has three objectives:
1. To examine market performance especially that associated with the famine in the mid-1980s in Red Sea Province.
2. To examine how the present inflationary period differs or resembles the early to mid-1980s.
3. To make statements regarding the benefits of free relief food distributions in the past and to evaluate the usefulness of continued free food deliveries in Red Sea Province.
The principal sources of data for the study were Oxfam Port Sudan files, the files of the Tokar Delta Board in Tokar town, and the Department of Agricultural Economics in the Ministry of Agriculture. The Oxfam data were collected by market clerks in the Derudeb and Tokar markets. The data were collected four times a month and, for the purposes of the present study, averaged by year. The Tokar Delta Board data are routinely collected monthly as part of a wider study on the prices of a variety of commodities in Tokar. These data will be presented for both markets below. Cereals prices will be discussed first, then livestock prices, and lastly both will be discussed together prior to the conclusion of the paper.