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Famine Action Mechanism: Predictive data, faster financing and better joint response to rid the world of the scourge of famine

24 Sep 2018


The United Nations, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross, Microsoft Corp., Google and Amazon Web Services announced, in the margins of the General Assembly, an extraordinary global partnership to prevent future famines.

With support from leading global technology firms, the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM) is the very first global mechanism dedicated to preventing future famines, changing the way the system responds from reactive to proactive and faster through prevention, preparedness and early action. The new approach can save more lives and reduce humanitarian costs by as much as 30 per cent.

“The Famine Action Mechanism, FAM, is an important new tool that will help to predict and therefore prevent food insecurity and famine before they have a chance to take hold”, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “Crisis prevention saves lives. With the Famine Action Mechanism, we are renewing our pledge to Zero Tolerance for famine and acute food insecurity”.

“Famines have been part of the whole human history throughout human history. In fact, probably the worse famine the world has ever seen took place during my lifetime”, said UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock in his remarks at the event. “But it’s also the case that famine has become much rarer. There have only been only two declared famines during the last 20 years –the Somalia famine in 2011 and the declaration we had to do for South Sudan last year. Most countries are beyond this scourge. The FAM can help us get all countries beyond the scourge.”

The FAM will work through three pivotal elements:

State-of-art technology, data and analytics

Combined, they will help us predict on the basis of what we know has happened to crystalize a problem.

Much faster financing

A pre-agreed, pre-negotiated, pre-arranged system automatically for releasing resources when the problem crystallizes.

A joint response system

“That is where the United Nations family the World Bank Group, and the NGOs and the Red Cross need to collaborate more”, concluded ERC Lowcock, stressing how FAM will build on good practices already in place.