What three conditions trigger the United Nations to declare a “famine?”  What causes a famine? And how do you stop a famine? These questions are acute right now as the world faces an unprecedented number of people living in famine or near famine conditions.

This video, from the World Food Program offers a concise explanation of how and why famines are declared — and what can be done to stop it.

Famine has already been declared in South Sudan. Meanwhile, parts of Kenya, Yemen, Somalia and Northern Nigeria are in near famine conditions. Some 20 million people may face famine in the coming months and weeks.

“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council last week.

One can expect that an already stretched global humanitarian relief system will come under deeper pressure as the international community attempts to confront it.

UN Dispatch is dedicated to covering this critical story in the coming weeks and months. You can learn more about the global famine crisis here, the role of US foreign aid here; how climate change is making this all worse here,  and from this podcast explainer, below. 

 

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