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close this bookWar and Famine in Africa (Oxfam, 1991, 36 p.)
close this folder6 War and famine
View the document6.1 Structural considerations
View the document6.2 The overall effect of war
View the document6.3 Some basic parameters

6.1 Structural considerations

On the structural or underlying connection between war and famine, several observations can be made. In some respects, internal war in Africa is still partly cast in an earlier mould. That is, it is fought through groups whose existence is based upon different forms of aemi-subsistence. Modern conflict, however, arises not as a process of regulation and adaptation, but from the growing instability and crisis of semisubsistence. This instability has increased since the 1970s. Modern warfare, moreover, proceeds not by resolving tensions but by massively increasing disparities between groups. It does so because the political economy of internal war dictates that systems of semi-subsistence are both targets and points of defence. The polarisation of ethnic groups and the destruction of assets reinforce the instability of semi-subsistence. Conflict in Africa should not be seen as a secondary or separate issue. It is a long-term trend and a defining characteristic in the growth of food insecurity. It is comparable to the negative aspects of economic and environmental change already discussed (3.4 to 3.6). Indeed convict, impoverishment, and drought appear to have become central aspects of a complex, antagonistic, and mutually reinforcing syndrome which has pushed many countries towards widespread food insecurity and political disintegration. In other words, enviro-economic factors are the substructure of African famine, while conflict is its super-structure.