News on food insecurity and famine

WHO helps worst cases of malnutrition in children in South Sudan

4 December 2017 - Six million people in South Sudan—well beyond the half of the population (56%)— were estimated to be severely food insecure in September 2017, out of which 40 000 in humanitarian catastrophe. The situation could worsen next year.

Looking out for Acute Watery Diarrhoea in Somali region: A day in the life of a World Health Organization (WHO) surveillance officer in Ethiopia’s Somali region

6 September 2017 - WHO and partners are supporting government efforts to bring Ethiopia’s acute watery diarrhoea outbreak under control. WHO provides technical experts, supplies and logistical support to assist the Ethiopian health authorities.

WHO provides lifesaving treatment for severely malnourished children

26 July 2017 - Food insecurity in many parts of South Sudan remains critical with a global acute malnutrition rate above emergency thresholds.

WHO responds to new acute watery diarrhea outbreak rumour in a remote zone in Somali region of Ethiopia

July 2017 - In disease outbreak situations, rumours are as valuable as actual surveillance data. In fact, disease response teams particularly surveillance officers, attach a lot of importance on rumours and investigates them until proven wrong or right.

Pre-famine situation in Somalia and its impact in the Horn of Africa

24 May 2017 - The international community and the Somali federal government have both raised a red flag over the drought and pre-famine situation that has affected half of the country’s population.

WHO calls for immediate action to save lives in Somalia

11 May 2017 - WHO is concerned by the chronic shortage of funding for life-saving work in Somalia in response to the ongoing drought that has plunged the country further towards famine, disease, and health insecurity.

WHO NIgeria deploys personnel to combat meningitis outbreak

3 May 2017 - WHO in Nigeria has deployed 190 Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) personnel to support Sokoto state government in controlling the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis. Response to the outbreak includes a reactive vaccination campaign that targets 740,000 people.

Somalia launches second cholera vaccination campaign in Baidoa

3 May 2016 - WHO and the Federal Ministry of Health of Somalia launched the first round of a preventative oral cholera vaccination campaign (OCV) today in Baidoa at the Baidoa Regional Hospital, targeting 224 000 persons aged 1 year and older.

More than 20 million people are facing crisis

27 April 2017 - Famine is occurring in parts of Unity State in South Sudan, while the majority of the country faces food crisis. Large areas of Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, and northeastern Kenya are currently experiencing food insecurity crisis levels, with some areas of Somalia at already at emergency levels.

Better access to health services for rural communities in South Sudan

3 April 2017 - WHO is supporting the Republic of South Sudan's Ministry of Health and partners to roll-out a new approach to community health service delivery called the Boma Health Initiative.

Somalia: WHO and MoH enhance cholera response efforts in Bay region

22 March 2017 - The Ministry of Health in Somalia, with support from WHO, have deployed a technical team to assess the magnitude and challenges of the cholera outbreak in Bay region, and provide technical assistance to scale up the response.

WHO and partners strive to immunize 3 million children against polio

3 March 2017 - Despite multiple humanitarian crises, including famine, the first round of the National Immunization Days of 2017 is underway throughout South Sudan aiming to reach over three million children under 5 with two drops of polio vaccine.

WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and partners intensifies the health response to the cholera outbreak in South Sudan

14 February 2017 - Despite the ongoing complex humanitarian crises in South Sudan, WHO in partnership with the Ministry of Health and partners are responding to the latest cholera outbreak in the former Jonglei and Lakes States.

This page links all WHO technical and general information and resources on food insecurity and famine

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WHO's website features disease maps of countries affected by food insecurity and famine. Here you can find the integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and cumulative number of cholera cases in affected countries.

Diseases related to famine


Cholera is transmitted through contaminated water or food and can rapidly lead to severe dehydration and death if left untreated.

Acute malnutrition

Acute malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies can be widespread among refugees and displaced people.


Outbreaks can result in epidemics that cause many deaths, especially among malnourished children.


Children whose immune systems have been weakened by undernutrition are at higher risk of developing pneumonia.


Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

Diarrhoeal disease

Diarrhoea can last several days, and can leave the body without the water and salts that are necessary for survival.