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Slipping into famine

May 24, 2017
Reuters /

Four countries in an arc across central Africa and the Middle East—Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen—are at risk of mass starvation due to conflict and drought, with two parts of South Sudan already declared officially ‘under famine’ by the United Nations. Another region is edging towards the worst-case classification, according to U.N. officials.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale, drawn up in 2004, has five categories of food shortage, of which famine is the most serious. It defines famine as a situation in which at least one in five households has “extreme lack of food” and in which the population is suffering ‘significant mortality’, or at least two hunger-related deaths per 10,000 people per day. Before famine, the IPC scale describes food ’emergencies’, ‘crisis’, ‘stressed’ and ‘minimal’ in descending order of seriousness.