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In 2018, Large-scale Famine Has Not Yet Said Goodbye
By admin October 24, 2018

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Living in most parts of the world in the 21stcentury, famines seem rare. The world has seen huge progress in fighting hunger and malnutrition, and the overall positive trend is likely to continue. According to the World Bank’s open data on global hunger, there were 95 million fewer children stunted in 2016 than in 1990, with East Asia and Pacific contributing to more than 50% of the reduction. The average food deficit measure, which represents how much food people need to stop them from being malnourished, is also declining.

However, for countries like Yemen, a large-scale famine is an unfortunate reality. Due to the civil war that began in 2015, the country’s food prices have increased dramatically, and visas for foreign aid are heavily restricted. According to Mark Lowcock, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, about 14 million people in Yemen, or half of the country’s population are facing “pre-famine” conditions. The number is particularly shocking against the backdrop of global development progresses. As of last year, 130 children under 5 were dying from hunger and diseases in Yemen annually.

According to the United Nations, the humanitarian criteria for famine include: at least 20 percent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope; the prevalence of acute malnutrition in children exceeds 30%; death rate exceeding two persons per 10,000 persons per day. Throughout human history, famines were cyclical occurrences resulting from fluctuating agriculture outputs. But in the 16th to 17th century, the frequency and intensity of famines began to decline because of the increasing food production and commercialization. Measures employed to combat extreme hunger include price control of agriculture products and importation of food from foreign countries, stockpiling, and developing humanitarian organizations.

Famines in the 21st century are caused more by human-generated factors, such as wars and conscious declines in food production. In 2017, the UN officially declared famine had returned to Africa, with about 20 million people at risk of death from starvation in Nigeria, in South Sudan, in Yemen, and in Somalia. In Yemen, for instance, the importation of basics such as cooking oil, rice, sugar and butter is banned, food price is soaring due to the rapid depreciation of domestic currency, and the war has made foreign aid impossible to enter the country.

As the humanitarian crisis deepens in Yemen, global communities are expressing concerns and calling for an end of the war.

 

FURTHER READINGS:

Half the population of Yemen at risk of famine: UN emergency relief chief

Scale of Yemen famine was ‘initially underestimated’ by aid agencies

World Bank open data on global hunger


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