Early Warning, Early Action: The Innovations Changing Food Crisis Management

By Richard Choularton
Jan 25, 2017 8:00 AM ET
Article

Today, an estimated 795 million people are chronically undernourished. While undernutrition in developing countries has dropped significantly over the past 25 years, persistent and recurrent food crises continue in many countries around the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWS NET, predicts food crises during the first half of 2017 in all of the regions it monitors — East Africa, southern Africa, West Africa, Afghanistan and Central America. In northern Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan, famine or near famine conditions are being reported.

There are many challenges to ending hunger and famine, but food security practitioners are developing innovative solutions that enable earlier and more evidence-based responses to food crises, and help communities build resilience to climate change and disasters. These promising innovations are revolutionizing the way we collect and analyze data, and allow people to access the information they need to make better decisions. While these tools have greatly improved our understanding of food security and our early warning systems, they have also revealed barriers beyond having adequate early warning that prevent us from taking early action.

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