Who, what, why: What is a famine?

Published on 20 July 2011

The United Nations has declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia, as it suffers the worst drought in more than half a century. When does mass starvation turn into a famine? (..) Most major aid agencies - the FAO, the WFP, the UN's Famine Early Warning Systems Network, Save the Children UK, CARE International, the European Commission Joint Research Centre and Oxfam - only describe a crisis as a famine when the situation on the ground reaches level five on the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system.

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