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A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, population unbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Nearly every continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. Some countries, particularly in sub-Sahara Africa, continue to have extreme cases of famine. The famine relief model increasingly used by aid groups calls for giving cash or cash vouchers to the hungry to pay local farmers instead of buying food from donor countries, as is often required by law, as it wastes money on transport costs, but more importantly, it perpetuates the cycle of dependency on foreign imports rather than helping to create real local stability through agricultural abundance. Emergency measures in relieving famine include providing high calorie ready-to-use therapeutic food, through fortified sachets of peanut-based paste such as Plumpy'nut that are given primarily to children. Long-term measures include investment in modern agriculture techniques, such as fertilizers and irrigation, which largely eradicated hunger in the developed world. World Bank strictures restrict government subsidies for farmers, and increasing use of fertilizers is opposed by some environmental groups because of its unintended consequences: adverse effects on water supplies and habitat. (via Freebase)