Symptoms include migration, distress sales of land, livestock, and other productive assets, the division and impoverishment of society’s poorest families, crime, and the disintegration of customary moral codes. The world has experienced a long history of famine. Since A.D. 10, the United Kingdom has suffered more than 180 famines. China had an average of 90 famines per 100 years between 106 B.C. and 1929. One of the most famous examples of famine was the Irish Potato famine of 1845 and 1846 (Cox, 1981). In the modern era, more than 3 million people were perished in the great Bengal famine of 1943 and in 1974 another 1.5 million starved in Bangladesh. China again suffered from the worst famine of the 20th century between 1959 and 1961. Africa was a sufferer of famine throughout the twentieth century killing millions of people. But the progress in the field of famine control is quite significant. It was also found that careful planning and management can block the chain of events that traditionally leads from crop failure to widespread death.
The analysis of severe famines in the world was able to point out some of the underlying causes of famines. Famines occur generally due to crop failure caused by bad weather or civil disruption, or both. Price distortion and reduced employments occur as a result of crop failure. Government policies sometimes aggravate the situation.
The poor food production due to bad weather or drought conditions or due to civil disruption can be dealt with if occurs for only one year. The farmers manage the situation themselves by depleting stock or borrowing food. But the problem takes place when these situations persist for more than one year continuously. An African example can be cited in this regard where the Sahelian states suffered from famine in 1974 following eight years of crop .failures due to poor weather.