Casaubon's Book

Hunger in Egypt

In 2008, before the revolution, the Egyptian Government set a portion of its Army to baking bread for hungry citizens, precisely to forestall revolution.  Now, after revolution, it isn’t clear who will provide the bread for its hungry and angry populace:

Around a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, with another 20 percent hovering just above it. And while there are no statistics for the period 2012/2013, indications are that malnutrition rates of around 30 percent are also on the increase, he said.

Poverty and malnutrition has visible and long-term effects, he added.

“Without essential nutrients, minerals, vitamins, children cannot grow their brain potential. They have a lower academic performance,” he said. “Malnutrition is not only a personal problem of human suffering but impacts the nation as a whole.” 

It isn’t only meat, milk and new clothes that have disappeared from the Sayeds’ lives. The chance of a better future is also fading: All five children stopped going to school when even the meager expenses needed for free education became too much.  

“I feel sad when I see my friends go to school,” daughter Fatma, 13, said.

Her father has darker thoughts: “Sometimes, I even think of selling my kidney to live.”

We can expect more and more stories like these in the coming decades as economic insecurity, the rising costs of climate change and energy, and the political instability that accompany all of these things make food harder to access.  Ultimately, political stability is, in the end, all about dinner.




  1. #1 steve from virginia
    May 7, 2013

    Children starve but there are lavish subsidies for motorists … even though the subsidies are bankrupting the country..

    Egyptians know which side their bread is buttered on, the car side.

    They love their cars and will react violently toward anyone and anything that threatens them.

    Their children? Let them eat each other …

  2. #2 NM
    May 7, 2013

    Heartbreaking. And yet another reminder of the urgent need for us to attend to our own contributions to the problem. As for the cars, are we much different?
    I added a new category to the Independence Days reports I’m still keeping for myself; Rioting Activities. Today’s accomplishment was finally ditching the excuses and taking the bus to work, something that needs to become a habit.
    Last month, I gave away my copy of Depletion and Abundance to my mother, who read it with great interest — my parents now keep quoting it to me, which my friend, who’s really tired of my quoting this blog to her, finds hilarious. ; p
    Had given them The Long Descent, which they found difficult; I think your approach of, “So Ok, here’s what you can Do,” resonated better with them.

  3. #3 John
    May 8, 2013

    Sharon – I was just looking for your other blog (the chatelaine’s keys) and couldn’t find it. Is this now the only blog you have running? I liked your blog because you went into depth on various topics, even if the postings weren’t that frequent. Thanks for all you’ve posted.

  4. #4 Sophia Katt
    May 8, 2013

    Sharon, your other sites may have been hacked. Very odd postings and ads there. Please check them.

  5. #5 Rebecca
    May 10, 2013

    This is how civilizations fall: one hungry child at a time.

    The marching armies, the riots, and the revolutions that bring on the new dark age are the product of that, not the cause.

  6. […] Read more: Hunger in Egypt – Casaubon's Book – ScienceBlogs […]

  7. #7 Craig Thomas
    May 14, 2013

    Perhaps a different approach could be taken: instead of obsessing about the supply side of the equation, it might be a lot easier and more compassionate to attend to the demand side – If Fatima Sayed had *not* had 4 siblings inflicted on her by her parents’ defective domestic management skills, the chances are that she could afford to gain an education and hence leave her state of poverty.

    Reducing the rate of reproduction of poor people would undoubtedly improve their economic circumstances and lead to a long-term solution to poverty in general.

    Instead, all we hear about is what the capitalist system wants us to hear: they propose to solve poverty by increasing consumption by the poor.

  8. #8 Wow
    May 15, 2013

    Religions (the successful ones at least) have strict bans on all forms of reproductive choice, since one way to succeed is to pinch out more believers and out-breed the competition.

    It’s one reason for women to be compliant to the male, meanwhile the same society ensures that unless the male is “always up for it”, they’re not male, not human, not worthy.

    Something a lot of feminist viewpoints miss, since none of the women know what it’s like to be a man: society just as heavily proscribes male sexuality and punishes men for not conforming to the expectations of the “matriarchy” (being a societal construct emergent from society, just like the “patriarchy” is, a thing in itself, not a descriptor of the gender associated with it).

  9. #9 Denise
    May 15, 2013

    #7 & #8: I concede that population has an affect on the limits of resources; however, I am frequently amazed and sometimes appalled that many thinkers of our times believe that population control is the ultimate answer to problems such as starvation, illiteracy, poverty, etc. We currently live in a culture that sees children not as assets but as liabilities. How sad. Children are aborted, killed, enslaved or abandoned. We, as a society, encourage minorities, the poor, those whose pregnancies will produce a handicapped child to prevent and/or eliminate the “problem”. A primary responsibility of humankind is (or should be) to share the natural resources and food production with everyone. Richer societies always want and demand more for themselves, which deprives the less fortunate of the opportunity to have what is needed to survive.

  10. #10 Wow
    May 15, 2013

    Strawman, denise.

    Craig is on about the prosperity of the home and the rights of the woman to have a child when they are ready rather than when they need a free slave worker.

    I’m on about how the reproductive rights are not going to be allowed whilst religions still have such a hold over societies worldwide.

    Neither of us say that they are the “ultimate solution”, but that they are problems that the impoverished are kept poor by.

    I dunno. You claim the woman has a right to her reproductive cycle and some bint comes along and finds *something else* to complain about.

    No wonder the MRA don’t bother working with feminist groups.

  11. #11 Denise
    May 22, 2013

    Wow. You lost me at “strawman”. I have no idea what you are talking about and who is the MRA? P.S. In case you missed my points, I am an individual, not a feminist group.
    I shall digress a bit. Both my spouse and myself were raised in situations that required great frugality and wise use of limited resources in order for the family units to survive. You have re-stated the points made by yourself and Craig as tho I did not understand your intent. I got it the 1st time. Obviously you missed my point so I will repeat it for you as you were so kind to do for me. Greedy Americans and other wealthy societies are the primary cause of starvation in the world. Our nation could feed a lot of people IF we donated the money we spend on iphones, ipods, televisions, computers and other annually re-purchased materiels that are later pitched in a landfill, to feed these poor children they would not be starving no matter how many of them there are.

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