THE 2015–2016 FAMINE THREAT IN ETHIOPIA: A STUDY OF THE RELEVANCE OF FAMINE ARCHETYPES
In recent years, Ethiopia has experienced fast economic growth and has been a major recipient of development and humanitarian aid. However, these developments were unsuccessful in eliminating food insecurity problems, and Ethiopia continues to be a considerably famine-prone country. The aim of this paper is to examine the applicability of Howe’s framework of the six archetypal situations symptomatic to famines (watch, price spirals, aid magnet, media frenzy, overshoot, and peaks) to the 2015–2016 food crisis, which left an estimated 15 million Ethiopians in need of acute food assistance. This paper observes that the food crisis proved to have some of Howe’s archetypes including watch, price spirals, and, to a lesser extent, media frenzy and peaks. Even though the aid magnet and overshoot were not recorded, the dynamics of the 2015–2016 food crisis confirmed Howe’s argument that the current system of humanitarian assistance does not lead to timely and effective responses. In this paper, I also argue that the Ethiopian political context further exacerbates the food insecurity situation of the country.