The extent and distribution of the emergency in Africa was certainly affected by the civil war in Ethiopia, and by political factors in various countries. But underlying it was the drought, which had already then continued over nearly 20 years. This is an example of a climatic shift, which few governments or administrators before the 1980s seemed able to take serious cognizance of. It seems to be still regarded largely as something previously unheard of in human affairs. But in poor countries, with rapidly growing populations expanding on to areas with poor soils and always marginal (arid) climate, such changes are menacing and inevitably affect international affairs.