A woman pulls a sack of food distributed by WFP in Ganyiel, Unity region, South Sudan, May 2017.
Photo: ©FAO/Albert Gonzalez Farran

New partnership to prevent future famines

The Famine Action Mechanism (FAM) is a new partnership between international organisations and leading global technology firms, which aims to tackle the root causes of hunger in order to prevent future famines.

The United Nations, the World Bank, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Microsoft Corp., Google and Amazon Web Services announced in late September 2018 a global partnership to prevent future famines: The Famine Action Mechanism (FAM).

In the past, responses to these devastating events has often come too late, after many lives have already been lost, incurring high assistance costs. The FAM seeks to change this by moving towards famine prevention, preparedness and early action, the World Bank reported. The initiative will use the predictive power of data to trigger funding through appropriate financing instruments, working closely with existing systems.

The FAM aims to promote investments that tackle the root causes of famine at the first warning signs, according to the World Bank. It aims to help in building vulnerable people’s livelihoods, safety nets and coping mechanisms. For this, it will use state-of-the-art technology to provide more powerful early warning to identify when food crises threaten to turn into famines. These alerts will trigger pre-arranged funding and action plans by donors, humanitarian agencies and governments to generate earlier and more efficient interventions.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services and other technology firms are providing the expertise to develop a suite of analytical models called “Artemis” that uses advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to estimate and forecast worsening food security crises in real-time. These forecasts aim to help guide and promote decision makers to respond earlier.

The FAM will initially be rolled out in a small group of vulnerable countries and build up to ultimately provide global coverage, the World Bank reported. On October 13, leaders dedicated to this initiative will gather as part of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings to discuss further implementation of the FAM.

(World Bank/ile)

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