By Tina Rosenberg
How much would it cost to prevent a famine? We don’t know exactly, but one answer is surely this: Much less than it would cost to save lives after famine hits. The relief group Oxfam estimates that emergency relief in famines costs seven times as much as preventing the disaster to begin with.
In Ethiopia — long a country of recurring famines — cycles of drought and flash flooding are worsening and grain harvests are falling. More than 13 million people in Ethiopia are kept alive by sacks of grain and cans of cooking oil from the United Nations World Food Program. And as the W.F.P. and others have warned, climate change is likely to make things even worse.