Easing the Drought in Southern Africa

The special report "Southern Africa's Drought," Dec. 16, is informative. However, the little it says about averting hunger in the future relates to drought prediction and food-aid transportation.

Drought and transportation difficulties are not the primary causes of famine. What is being done to reduce hunger and its root causes 20 years from now? Between 1970 and 1989 the population of Africa grew from 288 million to 505 million. Even with massive efforts to decrease hunger, the percentage of people chronically malnourished remained near 33 percent.

With Africa's population growing rapidly, it is not surprising that the land continues to be destroyed, water supplies are depleted in some areas, and species are becoming extinct by the thousands each year. Right now population growth in Africa is limited only by misery, war, and famine. The best way to maximize suffering would be to give food aid and nothing else.

Why is war emphasized as a cause of hunger, while there is little if any discussion of why people are at war? Population pressures, which contribute to a perception that there is a shortage of resources, contribute to wars and the breakdown of society. Steve Hill, Las Cruces, N.M.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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