Hunger Across Africa

How drought and conflict have put millions on the verge of famine

A mother feeds her child with a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition in a UNICEF supported hospital in the capital Juba, South Sudan, January 25, 2017. Reuters.

Across a vast swath of Africa, millions face starvation. Drought, conflict and disease have led to the continent’s worst humanitarian crisis in decades. In South Sudan, 1.6 million people have fled to nearby countries to escape war and find food. In Somalia, thousands of families have moved from their villages to camps for the displaced. In Nigeria, 450,000 children face acute malnutrition after years of attacks by the terror group Boko Haram. Here, VOA provides ongoing coverage of the disaster, its causes and the humanitarian response.

May 26, 2017 Video Report

Aid Agencies Reach Somalia IDP's With Cash Relief Programs

A key innovation since the 2011 famine in Somalia is the growing use of cash assistance programs for people affected by current drought-induced crisis. The mobile money transfers enhance accountability, sidestep security challenges and enable recipients, many of whom are displaced, to get help no matter where they go. Watch now.

May 25, 2017

Insecurity, Underfunding Hamper Nigeria Hunger Relief

Aid agencies warn that humanitarian efforts against hunger in northeastern Nigeria are dangerously underfunded and some communities remain cut off from aid and their farms as the military continues to battle Boko Haram. Read more.

May 23, 2017 Video Report

Conflict Creates Food Shortages in Niger

Like northeast Nigeria, parts of Niger are suffering through food shortages, caused in part by the Boko Haram insurgency. No famine has been declared, but for many people, hunger and malnutrition are a reality. Watch now.

Mapping the Threat

FEWS NET — the Famine Early Warning System Network — tracks food insecurity around the world. The project helps define how much hunger regions face by placing them on a five-point scale that ranges from minimal to catastrophic. Once food insecurity reaches famine levels, suffering and loss of life cannot be prevented, even with humanitarian assistance.

  1. Minimal. Up to 20 percent of households must take drastic steps to meet basic needs, for example, selling assets to pay for food or shelter.
  2. The remaining levels deal with challenges that affect at least 20 percent of households, despite the presence of humanitarian assistance.
  3. Stressed. Households cannot get enough food without meeting other non-food needs through unsustainable means.
  4. Crisis. Households either experience stretches of acute malnutrition or must deplete assets to meet food needs, leading to gaps in food consumption.
  5. Emergency. Households experience long stretches of acute malnutrition and excess mortality or see the extreme loss of assets.
  6. Famine. Households experience an extreme lack of food, leading to starvation and death. This phase represents the minimum threshold for famine. There are degrees of famine characterized by an increasing death rate and more rampant starvation.

Move the levels left and right to update the map. Only countries with IPC levels in the specified range will appear. Source: FEWS.NET

Root Causes

Explore the root causes and contributing factors behind Africa’s deadliest food shortages in years.

  1. May 8, 2017WFP: Conflict, Drought, Major Drivers of Famine
  2. May 5, 2017Aid Group’s Leader Detained in South Sudan
  3. April 20, 2017South Sudan Chaos Impedes Humanitarian Aid Work
  4. March 27, 2017Experts Say Climate Change May Be Making African Drought Worse

Responses & Solutions

Track emergency interventions and long-term remedies designed to save lives.

  1. May 4, 2017Africa Food Crisis Gets Attention at World Economic Forum
  2. May 4, 2017EU Force Maintains Pirate Watch Off Drought-stricken Somalia
  3. March 28, 2017Somaliland Hospital Cares for Malnourished From Drought
  4. March 20, 2017Africa Aid Officials Concerned at Proposed US Aid Cuts

Country Reports

In three countries — Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia — food insecurity has reached emergency levels, and famine has been declared in part of South Sudan. Each of these countries has experienced years of devastating conflict, and ongoing violence and instability continue to limit access to humanitarian aid.

Nigeria

Northeastern Nigeria faces acute food shortages due in large part to years of attacks by Boko Haram. The terror group has displaced millions, including farmers who have missed multiple planting and harvesting seasons. The U.N. estimates that 450,000 children face acute malnutrition in the conflict area.

Somalia

Somalia is rebuilding its civil and military institutions after 20 years of conflict. Challenges abound as the extremist group al-Shabab continues to control some regions and conducts regular attacks designed to cause many deaths. Conflict has left the country unprepared for an extended drought, and now more than half its population — 6.2 million people — face food insecurity, according to the U.N.

South Sudan

In Africa’s youngest country, a civil war has displaced millions of people, and warring parties have prevented humanitarian organizations from reaching people who need food. The U.N. reports that 270,000 children are severely malnourished, and over 5 million people are food insecure.