During almost two decades, beginning in the early 1970s, the Horn of Africa was racked by the ravages of hunger and war. Natural disasters are not new to the region, which historically could count on at least seven major droughts each century, but in the current era they have been increasing, in part due to massive deforestation and the changing pattern of weather. It is estimated that in Ethiopia alone, because of soil erosion and deforestation, 30,000 million tons of top-soil are lost each year. A second important factor affecting the severity of famine has been the dramatic escalation in the level and intensity of civil conflict, nowhere more evident than in Ethiopia.
* Professor of Political Science and Director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles.