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Famine in Africa: War, Aid, and Hydroponics

A man hands out food to needy people in east Africa. A man hands out food to needy people in east Africa.

The current famine in Africa is leading to the death of people at an astronomical rate, many of whom are young children, losing their lives before they get the opportunity to even experience it. The day they are born, they battle hunger, and unfortunately too many of them lose that battle. Making things worse are the warlords forcibly controlling food sources, even those provided by outside entities such as US AID and other aid organizations.

These warlords understand that the control of food is just as important, if not more important than the control of guns and other weapon systems. If the people of African countries like Somalia had access to agriculture, they would in turn have access not only to food, but to income or the ability to trade. This is the fundamental element of any economy. If the locals are making money by growing and selling and/or trading food, they have a chance to raise rebellion against the warlords. Or perhaps the community could create a police force for their protection. But without the ability to feed themselves, they lack any economy and die of starvation, or are murdered by the militias tearing the region apart.

This type of environment clearly leaves a vacuum of instability that is filled by violence. This is attractive to terrorism groups like Al Qaeda, which exploit the weak and the young in order to push their political and religious agenda by carrying out attacks on personnel providing aid, as well as more coordinated attacks carried out on foreign nations.

The key to resolving the trouble in these volatile regions is the production of crops accompanied by counter insurgency operations.

Afghanistan is a perfect example of how terrorism feeds on instability. After the U.S. helped the Taliban defeat the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in the ‘80s, the U.S. left the region, and Afghanistan became home to the leaders of the attack of September 11.

The key to resolving the trouble in these volatile regions is the production of crops accompanied by counter insurgency operations. Such operations include highly skilled groups of people integrating with the local populace to determine and meet their needs, as well as finding those who are looking to undermine the community’s efforts for peace and stability. This is the theory of the “Strongest Tribe,” meaning the people who can prove to be more powerful will win the respect of the people. But, for long-term regional security, those looking to bring peace can not only provide it through strength, but also have to show a better way of life. Here, agriculture is the key.

The challenge with agriculture in these areas, besides the concerns about security, is the lack of clean water and natural resources. Rapidly deploying hydroponic crop production units might be the answer to these challenges and hopefully hydroponics will be a tool used in the future by both aid and military organizations for these very reasons.

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Colin Archipley is a hydroponics grower and war veteran, which gives him a unique perspective on global problems involving the military and food.
Last modified on Monday, 30 July 2012 17:21

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