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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Fantastic Prices' in the Midst of 'Acute Food Shortages': Market, Environment, and the Colonial State in the 1943 Vihiga (Western Kenya) Famine
Author:Maxon, Robert M.ISNI
Periodical:African Economic History
Geographic terms:Kenya
Great Britain
Economics and Trade
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3601648
Abstract:This article examines the food shortage and famine that hit present-day Vihiga district in western Kenya during the period March to June 1943. The Vihiga of the early 1940s, an area inhabited by the southern Luyia subtribes, the Logoli, the Nyore and the Tiriki, was an area of high agricultural potential thanks to relatively fertile soil and abundant rainfall. The article analyses previous famines in Vihiga, the causes of the 1943 famine, household coping strategies, the scope of the famine, and relief measures. It shows that the 1943 famine was the product of several interrelated factors. The precipitating factor was environmental, the failure of the 1942 short rains and the late start of the 1943 long rains, but the market and State policies with regard to labour recruitment, planting priorities, sale of maize, and soil conservation were more influential in producing famine conditions that were particularly severe in the southern portion of the then Maragoli location. The famine marked an important milestone in Vihiga's history. While no such severe food shortage occurred in the region for the remainder of the century, after 1943 Vihiga households were unable to consistently produce sufficient commodities or foodstuffs to meet the region's requirements. Notes, ref.