Famine and Conflict: The Unfolding Food Security Crisis

“Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.”


Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, May 2017


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Humanitarian agencies project that more than 20 million people are at risk of severe food insecurity, starvation, and famine this summer in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Northeastern Nigeria. Common to all these contexts is the onset and prevalence of armed conflict. Furthermore, WFP has reported that every percentage point increase in food insecurity leads to an almost two percent increase in migration. The United Nations Secretary-General recently declared that $4.4 billion of funding is needed by July to stave off famine in these countries.

This crisis leads to stark and hard questions for the humanitarian sector, and for the broader international community. What has led to these circumstances? In terms of humanitarian response, what type of engagement is needed? How can and should humanitarians grapple with the demands of immediate response while also engaging in more long-term prevention and resilience work? On the global level, does the impending crisis in these four countries represent an exceptional “perfect” storm of negative factors, or are these cases representative of a worrying trend in global food security?  If this crisis is indeed preventable, what responsibilities do the political, donor, and humanitarian community share to ensure that this crisis is averted?

This podcast will look to explore how the risk, and reality, of famine has come about in the four countries in question. Additionally, this podcast will assess what is needed in the immediate term, as well as the areas of policy development and implementation needed to address global food insecurity.

Key Questions

  • What aspects are key to understanding the latest developments in the four countries facing this crisis?
  • What are the likely humanitarian implications, in particular as they relate to forced displacement?
  • What steps can be taken by humanitarians, and the broader international community, to avert or limit the most serious impacts of the crisis?
  • In what ways have armed conflict, drought, and macro-economic collapse played a role in the crisis? What drives the interconnections between these elements?
  • What lessons can be learned from this crisis, and what areas of food security policy development need to be prioritized? 
Suresh Babu
Head of Capacity Strengthening,
International Food Policy Research Institute
Conor Phillips
Country Director, 
International Rescue Committee, Kenya
Twitter: @conorphi
Nahuel Arenas 
Humanitarian Programs and Policy,
Oxfam America
Twitter: @niankul23
Douglas Mercado
Deputy Country Director,
World Food Programme, Nigeria
Twitter: @demerc
Peter Lundberg.png
Peter Lundberg
Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, 
United Nations
Twitter: @Plundber
Hassan Noor.png
Hassan Noor
Country Director
Save the Children, Somalia





Michael's picture

For the most part, the majority of the people are aware of this global problem!
I think it is important to be aware of what actions people can take locally and the anticipated positive impact.
What have we learned from the past?

himat's picture

The update on the situation of Somalia is very clear, concise and complete. Hats off to Hassan Noor Saadi

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