Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Professor Hashim Gibrill


The main objective of this research is to investigate the policymaking apparatus of u.s. foreign policy in its response to famine and hunger disasters. Of crucial importance is the extent that an immediate and effective response to the victims of these disasters is held captive to their race, form of government, or importance to the u.s. view of geopolitics. An effective response is considered in this study to be one which addresses the causes of famine and hunger in a society (armed conflict, debt).

The administration of Ronald Reagan and its response to the African famines of the 1980s can be examined as either an abberation, or consistent with U.S. foreign policy as has been practiced since the dismantling of colonialism.

Ronald Reagan essentially inherited a development structure that was an extension of U.S. economic and political aims. There is a tenuous relationship between U.S. development and emergency relief and humanitarian aspirations.

The President chose to decline attempts to assist African nations under duress by famine, whether such nations were socialist or non-socialist. The threat to eliminate funding from crucial international agencies which combat famine also pointed to an administration that was insensitive to appeals to equate the life of an African with that of an American or a European. The significance of this study is its focus on discerning the structure and decision-making process involved in famine response and hunger prevention. It is also significant as it is one of the early studies to examine the u.s. response to famine in the 1980s.