In this interview with Roger Thurow, senior fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, he discusses the need for effective agricultural development for smallholder farmers in Africa as an important step in eradicating hunger in the region.
Name: Roger Thurow
Affiliation: Senior Fellow for global agriculture and food policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Location: Chicago, IL
Bio: Roger Thurow joined The Chicago Council on Global Affairs as senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy in January 2010 after three decades at The Wall Street Journal. He is the editor and principal contributor to the Council’s Global Food for Thought blog, part of the Global Agricultural Development Initiative. For 20 years, he served as a foreign correspondent, based in Europe and Africa. His coverage of global affairs spanned the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the humanitarian crises of the first decade of this century – along with 10 Olympic Games. In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations. Thurow and Kilman are authors of the recent book ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. In 2009, they were awarded Action Against Hunger’s Humanitarian Award.
Photo credit: Luther College
The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing a devastating famine. What factors contributed to this famine, and what needs to be done both in the short term and long term to help those that are suffering?
Conflict and drought have precipitated this famine. The long-running conflict and turmoil in Somalia has crippled agriculture activity, disrupted markets and displaced many, many people. This has spread hunger across a wide area of the country, forcing refugees to flee into neighboring countries. Add to this a devastating drought throughout the Horn and famine was sure to follow.
Emergency food aid has been pouring into the region, which is necessary to feed the swelling ranks of the hungry and save countless lives. But we also need to display similar urgency in addressing the desperate need for agricultural development. This isn’t an either/or proposition. We must do both emergency food aid AND agriculture development. Emergency food aid won’t prevent the next crisis; only agricultural development can.