Via texas in africa, Edward R. Carr explains what we know about the cause of the burgeoning famine in Somalia:
The long and short of it is that food insecurity is rarely about absolute supplies of food – mostly it is about access and entitlements to existing food supplies. The HoA situation does actually invoke outright scarcity, but that scarcity can be traced not just to weather – it is also about access to local and regional markets (weak at best) and politics/the state (Somalia lacks a sovereign state, and the patchy, ad hoc governance provided by al Shabaab does little to ensure either access or entitlement to food and livelihoods for the population).
For those who doubt this, look at the FEWS NET maps I put in previous posts (here andhere). Famine stops at the Somali border. I assure you this is not a political manipulation of the data – it is the data we have. Basically, the people without a functional state and collapsing markets are being hit much harder than their counterparts in Ethiopia and Kenya, even though everyone is affected by the same bad rains, and the livelihoods of those in Somalia are not all that different than those across the borders in Ethiopia and Kenya.
This is of course the central contention of Amartya Sen’s excellent Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Famines, defined as mass death through starvation, are the preventable consequence of bad weather – and now, as throughout history, they do not happen in functioning states with democratic governments.