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FACING FAMINE

20 million people are at risk of starvation in worst humanitarian crisis since World War II

Story by United Nations Development Programme April 21st, 2017

Northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are facing conflict and drought and are now approaching famine, with 20 million people near starvation in the worst preventable humanitarian crisis since World War II. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for US$4.4 billion by July to avert “catastrophe” in the four countries.

© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa

The crises are closely linked to conflict, fragility, and insecurity. The United Nations is leading efforts by humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding partners in all four countries, delivering urgent aid and building resilience among vulnerable people over the longer term.

Swift delivery of aid, combined with early recovery and emergency development work, can address and prevent famine and ensure durable peace. Building resilience to future shocks is vital. This means creating opportunities for people to quickly earn an income to support their families and ensuring basic services are restored.

Hospital in Nigeria © UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
After returning to the village they fled, three women assess the destruction left by Boko Haram. © UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa

In northeast Nigeria

Some 5.1 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance resulting from long-term social, political and economic exclusion, along with violent conflict. Nearly seven out of 10 people were living below the extreme poverty line before the current crisis, and farmers have been unable to plant food crops for the third consecutive year after losing tools, seeds and livestock.

© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa


To revive the local economy in north-east Nigeria, UNDP is supporting livelihoods and businesses with small grants, skills training and trade assistance. Priorities include repairing or rebuilding community infrastructure such as schools, water and sanitation, and government buildings, which also creates emergency jobs; and revival of agriculture with new seeds, tools, fertilizer and livestock.

© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria /Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa
© UNDP Nigeria / Bridget Jangfa

In Somalia

Nearly 3 million people urgently need food and livelihoods support, UNDP and OCHA have redirected programmes to the hardest hit areas. The new Somalia National Development Plan, devised last year with UNDP’s support, prioritized resilience and climate change. With OCHA, UNDP is supporting disaster preparedness in Somaliland and Puntland, working with humanitarian affairs and disaster management agencies and forming local disaster committees.

© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal

Some 65 percent of the Somali population is rural and engaged in pastoral, agro-pastoral and subsistence agriculture as a livelihood. As part of an ongoing Climate Change Resilience Programme, UNDP has helped the regional Ministry of Environment in Puntland build a main water reservoir, serving 15,000 pastoralists and their livestock and providing water storage for four months.

© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal

In partnership with a local humanitarian agency, UNDP provided primary environmental and clean-up care for internally displaced people living in camps in Baidoa, South West State, benefitting 984 households.

Rehabilitated water catchment facilities in Puntland have benefitted 650 households. Solar panels previously supplied by UNDP have met 75 percent of energy needs in the main treatment centre serving more than 2,000 cholera patients in Baidoa.

© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal
© UNDP Somalia / Ahmad Al Hammal

In South Sudan

Some 5 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance following severe damage to crop production, rural livelihoods and the economy broadly because of ongoing conflict. Recovery and stabilization are needed to stop the famine from spreading to as many as 1 million more people.

UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR and FAO are working together to prevent the famine from spreading into other vulnerable areas—focusing on livelihoods, food security, local economic revitalization, basic services, and peace and reconciliation.

© UNDP South Sudan

UNDP South Sudan has championed an integrated recovery and resilience-building programme, strengthening social services for the most vulnerable, building peace, strengthening governance and reinvigorating the local economy. The programme aims to help communities better withstand shocks and crises by:


© UNDP South Sudan

In Yemen

Some 17 million people—65 percent of households—are now considered “food-insecure,” as a result of ongoing conflict that has killed more than 7,600 people and injured more than 42,000. Before the conflict erupted in March 2015, Yemen depended on imports for 90 percent of its staple food, but now imports are restricted. Nor do the most vulnerable people, such as widows, orphans, the disabled, and elderly, receive government-funded monthly safety net allowances any longer.

© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen

UNDP’s work in Yemen will benefit:

© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen
YEM-Pavement _ Maintenance_Amran city_SFD_Feb28,17 (88).jpg
© UNDP Yemen
© UNDP Yemen

For more information on UNDP's response to the hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, visit UNDP.org/AvertingFamine.

With your support, we can do more to prevent famine and other crises around the world.

Footnote: All photos © UNDP
Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen
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