Drought is a natural disaster; starvation is a man-made tragedy. Preventing the first can go a long way to alleviating the second, but not without the political will, as Ian Mathie makes clear in this gripping memoir of the 1974 humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. Dust of the Danakil is a true story of an ill-conceived project in the violent, drought-stricken Danakil region of Ethiopia. The author, sent by UK government pen-pushers to harness seasonal flood water and turn the notoriously aggressive Afar herdsmen into farmers, discovered a hostile environment – in more ways than one – that almost cost him his life. Intrigue, ingenuity, coercion and corruption make Dust of the Danakil an unforgettable story of hope and despair which provokes an indictment of the relief and aid industries.