With 30 million people facing famine, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has established a High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on Preventing Famine to coordinate attention on famine prevention and mobilize support to affected countries. In the first meeting (see notes) of the Task Force, led by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock and including representatives from WFP and FAO, stated its intention to focus efforts on preventing famine in the countries at highest risk of famine in 2021 if no action is taken: Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria (North-East), and potentially Burkina Faso.
The work will draw on the collective efforts of IASC members, around advocacy and resource mobilization, to avert the risk of famine in 2021, building on existing structures and modalities – no new funding plans are envisaged. Efforts will focus on advocating for resources for famine prevention; advocating for improved access; and joining up efforts to share data and real time information. The Task Force was called upon to support a better understanding of the complexities of each context - and for integrated-multi-sectoral solutions (particularly on women and girls). There is need for urgent advocacy on the continuing impact of COVID-19 - particularly the drop in remittances, lockdowns and other restrictions - on food insecurity. It is expected that the Secretary-General may report back to the Security Council in May (date TBC).
An early warning analysis, Hunger Hotspots, was published by FAO and WFP in late March 2021, outlining 20 countries and situations where deterioration of acute food insecurity is imminent over the coming months. Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria were identified in the report as countries with the highest alert.