As with the question of suffering, the famine in the Horn of Africa is no doubt raising difficult questions in the hearts of many. How can God allow a famine like this? While suffering is often a mystery, in this case, we have a more clear explanation of why this is happening. It’s largely a man-made phenomenon.
Weather is not the main cause
The drought in Somalia is said to be their worst in about 50 years. That’s pretty tough. But did you know that Texas is currently experiencing it’s worst drought ever, in more than 100 years of records? It’s having a devastating effect on agriculture in Texas. How many people have starved to death in Texas?
Now some will argue that he comparison is flawed because the US is a rich country with the means to avoid a famine even during a brutal drought. That’s exactly the point. The reason there’s a famine in Somalia is not the lack of rain but rather the lack of economic development, which can be traced back to human action. Any country with a reasonable amount of economic development can survive through a drought by importing food from another country. In the case of Somalia, not only can they not afford to import enough food, but the food that is donated to them isn’t reaching the starving people because of the lawlessness that allows warlords to roam the country pillaging the people and killing relief workers. It’s total chaos.
You don’t need natural resources to become a prosperous country. Some nations — like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan — grew into economic powerhouses by importing resources from other countries (e.g. steel and rubber), transforming them into something more useful (e.g. an automobile) and then exporting them at a much higher value than the inputs they bought. In principle, any country should be able to do this, but it won’t happen in the absence of proper economic, legislative and judicial frameworks. Chaos and anarchy stifle economic progress.
Unless those problems are fixed, we’ll see another famine in Somalia in a few years. The West can’t fix those structural problems. We can help, but a lasting solution can only come when the people of Somalia find peace among themselves and start building. Of course, it takes time to turn a country around. In the meantime, please dig deep into your pockets and donate to through a trustworthy charity like Chalice.
So when wonder why God allows a famine in Somalia, He might turn that question around and ask us: why do humans allow famines?