Famine in South Sudan, and emergencies in Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria

By Joseph Cook

Famine has adversely affected millions around the world for past many decades. In recent months, a global awareness of the current famine in South Sudan, and impending famines in Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria has been observed. As per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 20 million people are in urgent need of food assistance, 1.4 million children are acutely malnourished, more than 20 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation, and 21 million people lack sufficient health care facilities. This requires $4.4 billion of funding to meet immediate needs, of which $1.1 billion has been received.

In a recent address at the informal meeting of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, the Deputy Director of the Coordination and Response Division of OCHA Ms. Reena Ghelani presented the humanitarian response to famine and emergencies in these countries. Ms. Ghelani identified several ways to effectively reverse the mentioned crisis, including the political will to end conflicts and a greater abidance of international humanitarian law to allow aid workers to reach those most vulnerable. She also emphasized on prioritizing funds to support the humanitarian response. Moreover, to address the the long-term needs of those most vulnerable and to build resilience, new approaches such as a more sustained engagement through context-adaptable programming is required.

These crises require a strong response from governments, the humanitarian sector and development sector alike. With the growing concern over the role of climate change in influencing drought and agricultural production, the role of protracted issues such as droughts may increasingly impact those most vulnerable. The complexities associated with the separate crises pose multiple challenges for the international community. However, the international community must address on how well the the humanitarian and development sectors can collaborate to respond to long-term issues while meeting immediate needs.