De Waal examines the famine in Dafur, Sudan in 1984 - 5, and aid agencies' response to it. De Waal claims that humanitarian aid can be made more effective by looking at the underlying causes of local response to disaster rather than relying simply on providing massive amounts of food aid, which is often distributed ineffectively. De Waal argues that lack of food is often not a chief reason for massive deaths; rather it is disease resulting from social disruption of famine that causes death on a wide scale. This revised edition updates the previous book by including a preface that examines Darfur as it experiences another crisis; government sponsored miilitia (Janjaweed) raids in black Muslims.

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