The UN announcement of famine in Somalia is both a wake-up call to the scale of this disaster, and a wake-up call to the solutions needed to limit death-from-hunger now and in the future. So, what is famine and how can we prevent it? Famine is the “triple failure” of (1) food production, (2) people’s ability to access food and, finally and most crucially (3) in the political response by governments and international donors.
Crop failure and poverty leave people vulnerable to starvation – but famine only occurs with political failure. In Somalia years of internal violence and conflict have been highly significant in creating the conditions for famine.