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The Political Economy of Hunger: Famine in Nigeria, 1967-70

James M. Clevenger


Master's Thesis, University of Birmingham, June 1975

This study begins with an assessment of pre-war food production and consumption patterns in the Eastern Region of Nigeria. The nutritional vulnerabilities ensuing from the fundamental imbalance between reproductive and productive capacities in the region are outlined. This is followed by an analysis of pre-war politics in Nigeria. The factors which led to both the overthrow of the civilian regime and the collapse of military government into secession and civil war are discussed. The ensuing chapters are devoted to an analysis of the famine which resulted from the intersection of the socio-economic and political processes described above. First, the origins and development of the nutritional crisis are assessed, and linked to the pre-war food economy and political crises. Then, the efforts made by international humanitarian organizations to reduce the severity of the nutritional crisis are discussed, and the pernicious effects of political considerations on the relief operation are examined. Finally, the goals and perceptions which underlay the 'politics of hunger' are analysed. The thesis concludes with some remarks on the relationship of the Nigerian famine to episodes of mass starvation elsewhere in the Third World.

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Editor: Azuka Nzegwu.

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