With famines looming, we need to step up now

Rome, 17 May 2017 - Governments, civic groups and businesses need to rally support for both 

  • immediate relief to people in countries at risk of famine and
  • longer-term initiatives 

that will allow them to recover and restore their livelihoods, Ambassador Amira Gornass, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, said today.

Famine has been declared in some counties of South Sudan, and the number of people close to sliding from emergency to disaster is perilously high in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, according to FAO and other UN agencies. 

  • Some 30 million people in the four countries are uncertain where their next meal will come from or are reliant on humanitarian assistance.

"I urge you to take action now to relieve the impending suffering and to prevent further damage to livelihoods," Ambassador Gornass wrote in a letter to CFS Members and stakeholders, as well as the international community at large, to step up their response to the crises in the four countries.

  • CFS is an intergovernmental body aimed at achieving a world free of hunger. 
  • Its inclusive platform is structured to allow participants from civil society, the private sector and other non-state actors, especially the food insecure, to have a voice in discussions.

Needs can be met

The risk of famine in all four countries is mostly induced by conflict, which has disrupted food production, blocked aid and commodities from accessing vulnerable communities and driven food prices beyond what people can afford.

  • The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the primary mechanism for the coordination of humanitarian assistance, emergency and relief responses, can meet immediate needs if adequately funded, 

Ambassador Gornass wrote, reiterating calls made by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

Everyone should do what they can to support the IASC and to mobilize the necessary resources to enable emergency and relief activities to continue, she added.

The long tail of famines

While emergency relief is an immediate priority, plans for medium and longer-term assistance to support recovery and prevent future famines must be supported, the CFS Chair emphasized.

  • "The affected populations of these four countries need our help now. We, as the international community, need to act urgently and come together with effective actions," she said.

In 2015, CFS approved the Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (CFS-FFA) that sets out concrete policy approaches that can build resilience. 

All stakeholders, public and private, should apply the principles and actions laid out in that document in the four countries and wherever there is a protracted crisis that threatens food security and nutrition.

"I am counting on you to respond in a way that will ensure that short-term relief is properly funded while medium and long-term measures are taken to build resilience and to eradicate hunger and malnutrition for good."

(source: FAO press release)

Four Impending Famines

A video message from Ambassador Amira Gornass, CFS Chair, regarding the four impending famines in Northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen

05/2017: Impending Four Famines

CFS Chair Amira Gornass