The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.

Author:Nessan, Craig L.
Position:Book review
 
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The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change. By Roger Thurow. New York: Public Affairs, 2012. ISBN:978-1-6103-9067-5. xx and 272 pages. Hardback. $26.99.

"You can call me Wanjala!" In western Kenya, wanjala is the word for hunger. Children born during the long hunger season, which can run from April (or even January) through May or June, receive the name Wanjala. This is the long stretch of time after food from the previous harvest runs out for smallholder farmers, until the time of the next harvest in August or September. Wanjala is the longest season of the year. There are many people, including children, named Wanjala.

Roger Thurow, award winning coauthor of the book Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, left his thirty-year career as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in order to shine light on the alleviation of world hunger. He does so in this book by telling the stories of families who barely can scrape together enough for survival, and how the implementation of affordable and technologically appropriate agricultural methods is making a world of difference.

This book brings to life real families in western Kenya, who are working with incredible diligence, yet also at great risk, to improve the quality of their lives and especially those of their children. The costs of agricultural supplies, medical care, school fees, and other cash products have far exceeded the financial capacity of these farmers, who seek to make a living from one half or one acre of land. When grain and money run our each year during the Wanjala, people choose to go hungry rather than forego, for example, the steep cost of school fees for their children. In a country where malaria continues to plague the population, the costs of medicine or hospitalization...

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