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This article makes the case that emergency relief programmes in pastoral areas of Africa do little to relieve the fundamental effect of famine, which is destitution. It argues that traditional mechanisms of coping with drought are often disrupted by food-aid programmes, especially Food-For-Work. Three case studies from Sudan and Kenya are used to support the argument. The article concludes by making policy recommendations for emergency programmes to be more effective in meeting the primary need of pastoralists following severe drought, which is to rebuild herds and therefore their livelihoods.

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