History & Future of Famine

abstract illustration representing hunger

Less than ten years ago, famines were declining to a near-vanishing point. Today, mass starvation has returned with a vengeance. All modern famines are triggered by war and in particular by the deliberate or reckless use of hunger as a weapon. The readiness of belligerents to inflict starvation, and the international retreat from humanitarian norms comes on top of structural vulnerabilities to hunger associated with climate crisis, precarious livelihoods, economic downturn and the volatility of commoditized global food markets. Famines on a scale and intensity not seen for decades are unfolding in Gaza, Sudan and Tigray region of Ethiopia, along with multiple food emergencies in countries from Afghanistan to Haiti to Yemen, while international relief budgets dwindle.

The WPF has compiled a dataset on famines from the 1870s to the current day, which is being revised and updated. We are writing on war economies and famines, on gender and famines, and on early warning and response. We respond to events as they unfold with a particular focus on famine in Gaza, Sudan and Ethiopia, regularly speaking and writing for the media.

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