Physical and Behavioral Responses to Starvation and Famine in Warsaw Ghetto versus the West African Sahel
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Physical and Behavioral Responses to Starvation and Famine in Two Populations
Famine is an event in which food and resources are inaccessible and the majority of a
population is endangered (Shipton, 1990). When applied to starvation this definition is accurate
with one additional idea: starvation is the result of inaccessibility to resources. Many factors
contribute to the progression of famine and the resulting starvation. One of the key factors to
consider is the delineation between naturally occurring and man-made starvation and famine.
Naturally occurring famine is the result of agricultural or environmental causes such as lack of
rainfall or poor soil conditions. Man-made famine is the deliberate denial of food to people
“with the aim of starving them into submission” (De Waal 1991:77). Man-made famine and the
resulting starvation will be the basis for this paper.
The purpose of this paper is to examine and compare the physical and behavioral
responses to starvation and famine in residents of the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi occupation
and the citizens of famine-prone areas of the West African Sahel region. The location of the two
regions discussed can be found on the maps (Figure 1 and Figure 2) at the end of this paper. The
connections and contrasts of the two populations will be demonstrated through review and
presentation of models from literature, a brief background on the populations to be discussed,
examples of the populations as they fit the models and a brief discussion of limitations and
opportunity for further study.
Literature Review: Physical and Behavioral Response Models
The comparison between the Warsaw Ghetto and the West African Sahel region can best
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Institute, United States Army.
Tushnet L. 1966. The uses of adversity. South Brunswick, New Jersey: Thomas Yoseloff.
Watts M. 1991. Entitlements or empowerment? famine and starvation in Africa. Review of
African Political Economy, 51:9-26.
Whitney, E. and Rady Rolfes S. 2005. Understanding nutrition, 10
ed. Belmont, California:
WHO. Health conditions aggravate southern Africa famine. (August 4, 2002);
Figure 1. Map of Warsaw, Poland and location of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Britannica Student Encyclopedia: Warsaw." 2008. (March 2, 2008);
Figure 2. Map of Sudan, Ethiopia and the West African Sahel Region.
Adapted from: http://z.about.com/d/worldnews/1/7/U/1/-/-/sudan_map.jpg.