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.
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Photo for storyFood Insecurity, Poverty Force Kenyan Girls Into 'Survival Sex'

Women and girls as young as 12 from Kenya's countryside are being forced into sex work to support families affected by prolonged drought. They have little or no education and travel at least 50 kilometers to reach urban areas, working in unsafe conditions far from their homes.

Photo for storySimple Concoction Found to Halt Fall Armyworm

A farmers' group in South Sudan's Imotong state says it has found a way to combat the dreaded fall armyworm, which has devastated crops across the state.

Photo for storyOxfam: 700,000 at Risk of Starvation in Ethiopia

Food insecurity in the Somali region of Ethiopia has worsened, putting 700,000 people on the verge of starvation, according to Oxfam International. The humanitarian organization says that about 8.5 million people across the country face a high risk of hunger, a 30 percent increase since the beginning of the year.

Photo for story US to Give Additional $169 Million in Aid to Ethiopia, Kenya

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday it will provide an additional $169 million in humanitarian aid to the drought-stricken African countries of Ethiopia and Kenya.

Photo for storyIOM: Drought, Conflict Displace 800,000 in Somalia

Somalia is suffering from a renewed displacement crisis as people flee drought and conflict, particularly in the country’s southern region. The International Organization for Migration Somalia said about 800,000 people have fled their homes in response to the drought over the past seven months. That is in addition to the 1.1 million people who were previously displaced in the country.

Explainer: The World’s Largest Crisis In 70 Years

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.

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September 22, 2017

La Nina Could Cause Further Drought in Horn of Africa

Scientists are warning that the Horn of Africa may have to endure another dry season and more food insecurity because of weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean. In mid-August, water temperatures in the east central Pacific began to dip below average, increasing the chances that the weather phenomenon known as La Nina could develop in the Northern Hemisphere. Read more.

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September 21, 2017

US to Increase Aid to 3 African Countries, Yemen

The United States is increasing aid to Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia to help millions affected by food insecurity and violence. An additional $575 million in humanitarian assistance will be provided to the four countries, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green announced at the U.N. General Assembly. Read more.

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September 16, 2017

World Hunger Swells as Conflict, Climate Change Grow

The United Nations reports world hunger is rising because conflicts and problems related to climate change are multiplying. The report finds about 815 million people globally did not have enough to eat in 2016 — 38 million more than the previous year. Read more.

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. Catastrophe/Famine. Households experience an extreme lack of food, leading to starvation and death. When at least 20 percent of households in an area are affected, this phase represents the minimum threshold for famine. There are degrees of famine characterized by an increasing death rate and more rampant starvation.
Map of Africa Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity Map of food insecurity

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.