The Ethiopian government has undertaken many efforts seeking to address famine and historic droughts (Brown, 2017). It has committed various resources and entered many partnerships with world agencies aimed at mitigating drought for its people. Sen’s 1999 article “Famines and Other Crises” provided a basis for evaluation of the role of democracy in ending famine. Despite being non-democratic over the period with which Ethiopia achieved its current state which therefore casts doubts on Sen’s thesis concerning democracy and famines. This is because the Ethiopian government kept a total grip on mainstream media and any political dissident and carefully patrolled the borders of the nation showing its efforts (Brown, 2017). This paper seeks to challenge Sen’s position on the role of democracy in solving famines.
Political protests in Ethiopia were violently dealt with some even killed and the survivors arrested, numerous declarations of a state of emergency hindered the freedom of speech and assembly and curtails social media engagement. The government further controlled global aid groups so that they threaded carefully in talking about the problems that the country experienced (Brown, 2017). Despite all these instances proving lack of democracy, the government was successful in stemming out major famines in the country. As De Waal posits in chapter 8 of his article “Ethiopia: No Longer the Land of Famine,” the relief programs which the government of Ethiopia enacted were politically smart (De Waal, 2018). The assertion means that the government implemented responsive but repressive ideologies.
There were increased political discontents at the time but the government suppressed them by all means. Furthermore, the strategic commitments aimed at averting famine were not equally given to all parts in Ethiopia. The EPRDF government was people-centered and aimed at bettering the welfare of its people. The political decision and public action in Ethiopia were not democratic after 2005 as political discontents, press, and activism was totally suppressed by the government. Between 2005 and 2015, the period which government programs to avert famine were heightened, Ethiopia witnessed the highest form of non-democratic government practices and the efforts to avert famine were successful (De Waal, 2018).
Therefore, this only means Sen’s ideology on the importance of democracy in achieving a famine-free country has not considered the factors that an authoritarian government can have on the enacting policies that in the long run. However, as the Christian Science Monitor article on drought in Ethiopia contends, the decisions that the authoritarian government implement like spending more of its money in relief funding is problematic which provides significant importance to Sen’s ideology.