Famine response and prevention in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen

Famine response and prevention in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen
May 2017

The world faces one of the largest food crises in 70 years, with 20 million people in four countries — northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen — at risk of famine. If no action is taken, an additional 10 million will be threatened by famine.

Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 100 000 people are affected, and more than 5.5 million people will not have any reliable source of food by July.

The current levels of food insecurity in the four at-risk countries reflect continued underinvestment in agriculture and livelihoods within the wider humanitarian and development fields. Conflict and drought are forcing people to abandon their homes and their lands. As agricultural seasons are repeatedly missed and livelihoods abandoned, the humanitarian caseload builds and the number of people on the brink of famine rises. With approximately 80 percent of the affected populations relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, we must invest now in pulling people back from the brink. Often famine starts in rural areas and must be prevented in rural areas – agriculture cannot be an afterthought.

FAO is on the ground, in these countries to deliver emergency livelihood assistance to kick-start food production. This assistance includes inputs like crop and vegetable seeds, fishing and dairy kits – which are crucial for providing highly nutritious food. In parts of South Sudan, the fishing kits are the only lifeline to food for many families, while in Yemen, dairy kits are helping to provide life-saving milk for children.

To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, we need to scale up livelihood support and income opportunities to affected families. Supporting agriculture now is not only investing in food production today, but food security tomorrow.