The immediate causes of the 1974 famine in BangladeshThe well-known Bangladesh famine of 1974 was characterized by mass starvation which began in March 1974 and ended at around December the same year. The food crisis was characterized by immense flooding along the Brahmaputra River and high mortality. The initial warnings of the famine initially began in 1974 with sharp increase in prices resulting in widespread starvation in Rangpur district. The situation got worse when the country was hit by heavy rainfall and devastating floods along the Brahmaputra River (Ahmed, 1981). Furthermore, India refused to corporate with Bangladesh.
Rice crops were destroyed and prices rocketed. However, the situation eased in November when foreign aid as well as winter crop arrived. In December, the famine was declared over although excess mortality caused by disease continued into 1975. It is estimated that over 1.5 million deaths occurred during the famine. But what were the immediate causes of the famine? This paper looks at the immediate causes of the famine in Bangladesh that had such devastating effects. The paper states that the famine did not occur as a result of a sudden decline in the country’s aggregate availability of food by such natural disasters as floods but rather, the factors that triggered the famine can be traced to the expansionary economic policies adopted by the Bangladesh government immediately after the country got its independence (Ahmed, 1984).
In fact, the paper argues that the famine process started early in 1972 when inflation took off in a country that had always been price stable. By the time this inflation exploded in 1974, a large number of the rural people belonging to the lower middle class had already slid downwards into the poverty trap.
Furthermore, the condition worsened when the rural employment opportunities decreased owing to floods and food prices went up by big margins owing to precautionary as well as speculative attacks on the food markets (Ahsan, 1974). The paper concludes that contrally to what many believe the famine in Bangladesh was not caused buy natural factors but by lack of proper policies as well as lack of coordination in the government’s effort to take food to those who most needed it. Immediate causes of the famine in BangladeshJust like most famines, many factors are thought to have caused the Bangladesh famine of 1974.
Some of these factors include flooding, mismanagement of food grain stocks by the government, legislation restricting movement of food grain between districts as well as distributional failure among other causes. However, it should be noted that the 1974 Bangladesh famine was such that thousands of people died out of hunger when food was actually there (Alamgir, 1980). Despite the fact that the government would want to blame it on flooding, it is not flooding per se that caused the famine.
The main problem and hence cause of the famine was the mis-governance of the state as well as the populist economic policies. In spite of the adequate food availability within Bangladesh, the administration was incapable of stabilizing the food prices since people had no confidence in government’s ability to stabilize the economy.