Real world issues in Africa continues to be sequential. Now, it’s the South of the Sahara. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people afflicted with hunger is estimated to be 239 million and this number will increase is preventive measures are not put in place. Per-capita incomes continue to fall over five consecutive years. Over the past decade, Africa has increased food supplies per person, largely by increasing imports. This study traces the underlying cause of the crisis; the present food crisis in Africa, and how its roots in the past; it has its roots in the history of Africa’s relationship with the Western world has aided this crisis. It also concludes that unless there is an agricultural revolution that is pivoted on a home-grown science and technology that attempts to promote an organic link between the pattern and growth of domestic resource use and the pattern and growth of domestic demand, undernutrition, rural poverty, and political instability will increase. It is time African countries initiate a plan for their own lasting future. Lessons from the past show that many of Africa’s existing constraints can be removed only by Africans themselves and through collective self-reliance. We can learn and even borrow from the experience and knowledge of others, but we should try to find the solutions to our problems.
Keywords: Dependency, Development, Third-world
Dependency Theory ; 3rd World Food Crisis
We live in a world of cruel paradox. Nearly one-fifth of the world’s population live in absolute poverty. It been over centuries and people are still chronically hungry. In this same world, mountain of food pile up in industrialized market economies. Because of trade and aid policies in disguise as aid, this mountain of surpluses has destroyed the livelihoods of poor developing countries, mostly especially African nations.
In this paper we will review and evaluate the contribution of dependency theory to the current food crisis in Africa, which is an urgent global challenge.
Development is a concept that compares history(past) to the present. It is a measure of social, political and economic progress of countries, facilitated by the quick technological evolution. According to Todaro and smith, development is a multi-dimensional process involving the reorganization and reorientation of the entire economic and social system (Todaro & Smith, 2015). He argue that development is a physical reality, and a state of mind in which society has, through some combinations of social, economic and political process secured the way of obtaining better life. This concept has been an unchanging quest of the third world countries since the end of WWII and the gain of their independence. It has been a fragile achievement for some, and a seemingly illusory goal for others. Over the years, scholars have blamed the Europeans for the underdevelopment of Africa; and it is true. This has also led to evaluation of dependency theory in explaining the current food crisis in Africa.
Dependency theory agrues that underdevelopment is precisely the result of the incorporation of the third world economies into the capitalist world system. It implies that a country or state relies on another for support and growth. These third world countries are mostly countries in Africa, Asia, Middle-East, and Latin America, characterized as impoverished, malnutrition, low life expectancy, dependent, in other words, underdeveloped. The dependency theory conveys that most of these third world developing countries are caught up in a never-ending continuum of underdevelopment. These third world countries are overwhelmed institutionally, politically, and economically, sometimes rigorously and unfairly by engaging in dependence relationships internationally and even domestically. This theory blames the continuance of under development to the historical progression of very unequally and discriminatory rich to poor country relationships. Therefore the rich countries progress, and these third world countries continue to stay stagnant in their quest towards development. There are certain groups of people within these countries that increasingly double-down onto this dependence relationship such as entrepreneurs, landlords, merchants, politicians, and individuals with such power. They indulge in high salary income, political power, and social, status, which get in the way of assisting the country at large. With the way in which the world works, the richer countries progress while taking advantage of the poorer ones (Todaro & Smith. C, 2015). This is a continuum that will continue to happen because the poorer countries need the richer ones and it is almost impossible for a country to be self-reliant and develop on its own, mostly in Africa. Take for instance, fifteen years after most African countries gained independence, Europe is still present and influential, even in their daily governing policies. While direct sovereign control has been eliminated, political, economic and cultural preponderance remain.
A Timeline of doom
This phase of the story, describes a chronological negativity of the theory and how it has led to the current food crises faced in Somalia. First, it started with the colonization. Colonialism allowed wealthy countries to take colonies for material benefits. Now, these once colonies face poverty and are forced to take huge loans from these wealthy western countries (their colonizers) to sustain their countries. Leaving them with foreign debt (Tesfai, F. 2016, April 2). This theory was used as a tool for exploitation of former colonial countries with economic dependence. Colonialism attacked the cash crops of all Africa nation, which was a source of livelihood. Under colonialism, African farmers were required to grow cashed crops for export at the expense of subsistence farming and this had an impact in the current food crisis. Because of over drain and no technological innovation, two centuries after colonization, Africa still produces less cash crop. On August 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that 12 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda required immediate assistance. Why? As a result, acute malnutrition and dire famine conditions in Somalia.
Next, even after colonialism, Africa still felt the need to depend on the policies and ideologies of their colonial masters for their own development. For instance, the World Trade Organization’s set of rules for trade. When countries trade internationally, they must have a balance of payments record and in other to trade, one good must be exchanged for another. Rather than diversify their agricultural produce, Africa followed the pursuit of mono-cropping because of the demands of exchange countries. In other meet this need, they need to acquire more land and resource. Subsistence farmers were stripped of their lands. Africa was hypnotized into maximizing profit without taking into considerations of the negativity or side effect of monocropping (a vivid illustration of capitalism). So, they become more dependent on these cash crops to satisfy others not knowing that monocropping reduces soil fertility, increases the risk of crop disease, and reduces subsistence farming as most croplands are taking away from subsistence farmers for the large-scale mono crop farming.
Now, with more exports of cash crops and more money there is a desire for more diversified food product (variety) and a hunger for industrializations. They made a wrong choice first, when they chose mono cash cropping, thinking that importing more goods to diversify taste was a better option, it was their greatest failure. The more they imported, the more they incurred unpayable debts, placing them in an unending cycle of how to make more money, so they can invest more industrialized farming which will help the economic development of their countries which they cannot achieve. These countries are trapped in large debts which preventing them from developing. “Africa received $540 billion in loans from these wealthy western nations such as United States and have currently paid back $550 billion of their debt, but due to compound interest African countries are still in $295 billion in debt.” (Tesfai, F. 2016, April 2). If a country or stste is dependent on another for survival, it is unable to develop economically or socially, which is why economic aid is not necessarily the key to reducing poverty and developing, but rather debt relief may be a more effective step.
How is this the case for Somalia?
A Somalia problem is its over dependence on foreign policies and ideology. In 1981, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank began implementing structural adjustment programs (SAPs) in Somalia, which led to decreased government spending on social services, such as education, health, law, and security. To soften the impact of SAPs on recipient states, multilateral lending organizations often paired the economic programs with food aid programs (food-for-adjustment) and this destabilized Somalia’s agriculture industry and as a result, contributed to the severe famines in the country. Not only did Somalia depend on foreign aid, it also created a pattern of dependency on external food aid that continues till today. Somalia’s dependency on food aid is unusual considering that, they were predominantly a pastoral economy; independent in its own production of food grain in the 1970’s when the economy was progressing.
Since 1974 to 1975, Somalia has suffered from periods of stagnant levels of domestic food performance, which was supplemented by food imports (Jibril, 2017). These policies were Implemented in Somalia, without considering the social, political, environmental and health issues they could face. Their soils suffer from errosion due to negelect of famine. With erosion comes drought and now, is worsend by the ar blast. Importantly, the SAP loans are still a barricade for Somalia. Somalia owes $328 million in bad debt from the 1980s, excluding debt relief for the country’s current famine. Presently, they are ineligible IMF’s Debt Relief because they are classified as under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) which is why they cannot combat the famine. Lastly, it is important to note that although Somalia notable example of an underdevelop country in Africa affected by its dependence on foreign aid and policies, they are not the only ones stuck in this cycle. In the 1980 and 1990s, SAPs were also implemented in other African nations such as; Nigeria, Egypt, and Uganda.
Recommendations to reduce the food crisis
How do these struggling African countries respond to and correct the problem of food shortages in Africa? According to the neoclassical dependency theory these countries must strive to correct these problems by themselves with the help of the developed countries. To overcome this problem these African countries should invest in science and technology to improve agriculture and to implement local development programs and better policies.
Dr. Akin Adesina, vice president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, had urged the governments of African countries to focus and invest in agricultural science and technology, and to increase productivity. (Delta Farm Press, 2010). He stated that Africa is the only continent that its food production per capita has declined over the last 30 years. So as the population grows the food production per capita shirks over the years and leads to famines and starvations which are seen today in Africa. He estimated that there are about 300 million people in Africa that live on a $1 or less a day and these people suffer from chronic malnutrition.
During a speech he stated, “There is power in democracy. We chose leaders, but then leaders must do the right things. The basic right, the power to influence what leaders do, is denied to millions in Africa. While agriculture in Africa accounts for 70 percent of employment and 45 percent to 60 percent of GDP, it receives less than 5 percent of government budgets.” (Delta Farm Press, 2010), as he expressed his disappointment in African governments. He demands that agriculture be at the forefront of African government policies and encourages a scientist to ensure that it happens. He pointed towards the US in its support of agriculture and farmers and said that it is the farmers, and their lobbyist that keeps the agriculture industry going and applauds their influence. He hopes that one day Africa would do that same and invest in science and agriculture and that they produce their own goods instead I of depending on the imports of other countries.
Another idea is that African governments should implement local development problems. In local villages governments can provide schooling, family planning, soil and water conservation, solar panels, farming loans and agricultural training. Animal husbandry and farmland management would produce more food and commodities. These local developments in struggling community in Africa could improve standards of living, increase food production, and even slow down the growing population that shrinks food per capita (Holechek,Cibils, Bengaly, & Kinyamario, 2016).
These ideas are vital suggestion that would save some of these African countries from their current food crisis. They also suggest that these governments should focus more on agricultural industries and their development. If these ideas can potentially work for them and set them on track towards development.