Working Paper

IDS working papers;105

Famine in the Twentieth Century

Published on 1 January 2000

More than 70 million people died in famines in the twentieth century. Stephen Devereux has compiled data from over 30 major famines and has assessed the success of some parts of the world, notably China, the Soviet Union, India and Bangladesh in apparently eradicating mass mortality food crises.

He contrasts this with the experience of sub-Saharan Africa, where famines triggered by the relationship between drought and civil war have become endemic since the late 1960s.

Devereux argues that if famine is to be eradicated during the twenty-first century, it requires not only technical capacity in terms of food production and distribution, but also substantially more political will, at national and international levels, than has been seen to date.


Image of Stephen Devereux
Stephen Devereux

Research Fellow

Publication details

Devereux, Stephen
IDS Working Paper, issue 105
1 85864 292 2


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Research themes
Inequalities and Poverty

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