- The Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics, and Society
- List of Contributors
- How is Food Political? Market, State, and Knowledge
- Science, Politics, and the Framing of Modern Agricultural Technologies
- Genetically Improved Crops
- Agroecological Intensification of Smallholder Farming
- The Hardest Case: What Blocks Improvements in Agriculture in Africa?
- The Poor, Malnutrition, Biofortification, and Biotechnology
- Biofuels: Competition for Cropland, Water, and Energy Resources
- Alternative Paths to Food Security
- Ethics of Food Production and Consumption
- Food, Justice, and Land
- Food Security, Productivity, and Gender Inequality
- Delivering Food Subsidy: The State and the Market
- Diets, Nutrition, and Poverty: Lessons from India
- Food Price and Trade Policy Biases: Inefficient, Inequitable, Yet not Inevitable
- Intellectual Property Rights and the Politics of Food
- Is Food the Answer to Malnutrition?
- Fighting Mother Nature with Biotechnology
- Climate Change and Agriculture: Countering Doomsday Scenarios
- Wild Foods
- Livestock in the Food Debate
- The Social Vision of the Alternative Food Movement
- Food Values Beyond Nutrition
- Cultural Politics of Food Safety: Genetically Modified Food in France, Japan, and the United States
- Food Safety
- The Politics of Food Labeling and Certification
- The Politics of Grocery Shopping: Eating, Voting, and (Possibly) Transforming the Food System
- The Political Economy of Regulation of Biotechnology in Agriculture
- Co-Existence in the Fields? GM, Organic, and Conventional Food Crops
- Global Movements for Food Justice
- The Rise of the Organic Foods Movement as a Transnational Phenomenon
- The Dialectic of Pro-Poor Papaya
- Thinking the African Food Crisis: The Sahel Forty Years On
- Transformation of the Agrifood Industry in Developing Countries
- The Twenty-First Century Agricultural Land Rush
- Agricultural Futures: The Politics of Knowledge
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter reviews food security in the West African Sahel, exploring the question of why, since the great drought-famines, of the late 1960s and early 1970s, food security and vulnerability to both climatic and market perturbations have not substantially improved and in some respects has deteriorated. Using my book Silent Violence, which was published in 1983, I revisit and review theories of famine and food security as they have been developed in and around African development. Using a village study in northern Nigeria, I argue that the precariousness of rural life can be explained by the shifting political economy of Nigeria and the forms of rural differentiation and inequality associated with, in the Nigerian case, the emergence of oil as the economic backbone of the country. While Nigeria as a petrostate is a special case, the dynamics at work point to general conditions prevailing across the West African Sahel. Since the 1970s there have been important shifts in policy regarding food and famine, and the ruling orthodoxy is now building resilience through the combination of traditional adaptability and decentralized forms of market integration. I investigate the origins and consequences of this approach and whether it can address the looming problems of global climate change.
Michael J. Watts is "Class of 1963" Professor of Geography and Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
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