APPENDIX ONE: FAMINE RELIEF MEASURES
It is not enough to issue ration books if there is no food. It is not enough to import food or to stock distribution depots if people cannot afford to buy the food. In all famines prices rise, so the poor cannot buy food and they starve, while other people sell all their possessions to buy food impoverishing themselves. For this reason famine relief measures typically include provisions like the following, which were laid down in the Bengal Famine Code and which were applied in Bengal in 1941, 1942 and 1943. (See Bengal Famine Code (1895), Famine Commission (1945a p69). See also K.C. Ghost(1944) for similar relief measures being used in Bombay in 1629-30.)
It will be noted that money was given rather than grain in order to reduce the costs of administering distribution to isolated recipients. The same is being done in Ethiopia today (Harden, 1985). This might be appropriate in a purely redistributional, Sen-type, famine. However the possible effects on prices even in a first-degree shortage are worrying, and in a second-degree shortage one might expect a dramatic rise in prices with no improvement in distribution.