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UN Food Organisation deputy chief: ‘Famine is back’


Monday, 03 April 2017

UN Food Organisation deputy chief: ‘Famine is back’

Daniel Gustavson joined the FAO in 1994, serving in Africa and South Asia. Before assuming his present role, he was the director of the organisation’s Liaison Office for the US and Canada. Gustavson spoke with EURACTIV.com Development Correspondent Matthew Tempest. The message of today’s report seemed to be summed up in the words that ‘famine is back’, especially looking at South Sudan, Somalia and north-east Nigeria. Realistically, how much time have we got to prevent a full-blown, catastrophic famine? Well, I think a lot depends on what happens in the current rainy season in most of those countries, that is April to June. Also, a lot depends of course on the amount of support to the households to prevent them from selling off all their assets, and continuing on a downward spiral – after which they fall off the edge, into catastrophe. So, it’s a combination of how much support we can give them, and also natural events. Some of the official classifications below ‘famine’ might seem a little bland and anodyne to the general public: ‘food insecurity’, ‘food crisis’. In layman’s terms, what does that mean for a family in one of those countries? Well, a ‘catastrophe’ situation is where the number of deaths is above 40 per 10,000, per day. That’s a lot. This is really a disaster. That’s the extreme. Before that, you’re in the situation of ‘emergency’, where people are barely hanging on, and they are selling what they’ve got left to sell. They’re eating a lot less. They’re giving food to the kids and not eating as adults. They’re selling their livestock to buy food – they’re not going to recover after that. And then once they get back to that point, in order to avoid famine, they’re going to have to move into a camp.

Source: Euroactiv