Choose one (1) of the following two essay questions.
Question 1: Famine
For a long time, experts thought that a lack of available food was the cause of famine. However, Amartya Sen revealed in his research that famines occur when some sections of society do not have access to food that is available.
What are famines? With reference to examples of famine since the 1980s, describe the multiple factors that cause famine (e.g. human-made factors, such as economic shocks, violent political conflict, policies regarding humanitarian aid budgets or bureaucratic negligence, and environmental factors, such as extreme weather events or crop failures). In your opinion, are famines human-made emergencies? What explains the rapid increase in the number of people who need emergency food assistance? Moreover, why in an era of declining poverty and hunger globally, are we suddenly facing famines in unconnected countries of South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria, Yemen, and Somalia?
Question 2: Business-led development
There is an increasing body of literature promoting the tenets of market forces in helping to alleviate poverty. Proponents of this position include Easterly and Moyo, who argue that markets work better than foreign aid in combating poverty, even claiming that aid is part of the problem. Market-based approaches to development consider poor people as producers, consumers, and micro-entrepreneurs while also seeking solutions to make markets more inclusive and efficient (we have looked at Fair Trade as an example of this).
Drawing on examples from social enterprise or microfinance, explain how marketoriented development approaches are driven by a neoliberal agenda to lift the poor out of poverty using business principles. What are the limitations such capitalist market-based approaches have in aiding the world’s poor? In your opinion, can the free-market be relied upon as the sole approach to poverty alleviation or does it play only a role in the nuanced approach to development? Explain your position.