UNITED NATIONS New
York (Xinhua) -- The World Bank, the
United Nations and partners on Sunday launched the Famine Action
Mechanism (FAM), the first global initiative dedicated to
The mechanism, with the support of
global technology companies, including Microsoft, Google and
Amazon Web Services, seeks to change the status quo of delayed
response and to move toward famine prevention, preparedness and
early action, said the the organizers in a joint press release.
The initiative will use the predictive power of data to
trigger funding through appropriate financing instruments,
working closely with existing systems, they said.
Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services and other
technology firms are providing the world’s top expertise to
develop a suite of analytical models called "Artemis" that use
advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to
estimate and forecast worsening food security crises in real
These forecasts will help guide and prompt decision-makers to
Famine is a fundamental moral issue, said World Bank
President Jim Yong Kim at the launch event at UN Headquarters in
"The fact that tens of millions of people risk starving to
death is a tragedy.
"And in the 21st century, the fact that we haven’t ended
famine is a collective failure of shameful proportions."
"Today we are taking a historic step to address these
challenges and deliver our commitment to end the vicious cycle
of panic and neglect when it comes to famine," he said.
"We have within our power to change that.
"There are challenges ahead of us.
"The commitment we are making is to find new and innovative
ways to address them."
FAM will enhance the predictive power of the early warning
systems, make financing predictable and strategic, and work with
key partners to help ensure that resources are channelled to the
most effective and well-coordinated interventions, said Kim.
However, early warning must translate into early action, he
said. "Investment in more proactive responses to avert
humanitarian crises could save millions of lives and also reduce
the cost (of humanitarian interventions) to the international
community by as much as 30 percent."
"We need to move away from ad hoc decision-making toward
strategic coordinated planning across the humanitarian and
development communities, and with governments, if possible," he
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said FAM is an
important new tool to help predict and prevent famine.
"FAM will give a more accurate picture of food security in
real time, triggering early action from donors and humanitarian
agencies that will save lives and prevent further suffering," he
told the same forum.
With the cooperation of humanitarian development
organizations, tech companies, academia, the insurance sector
and others, this initiative is a successful multi-stakeholder
partnership, he said.
Creating and strengthening partnerships will help donors,
affected countries and international organizations to bridge
funding gaps along the entire humanitarian cycle, from
prevention and preparedness to emergency response, said the UN
"With the Famine Action Mechanism, we are renewing our pledge
to zero tolerance for famine and acute food insecurity.
"We are renewing our pledge to feed everyone in our world and
to leave no one behind."
"This very basic goal should be within our grasp.
"With today’s advanced technology and knowledge of
agriculture, we can surely uphold everyone’s fundamental right
to food," he said.
After years of progress on hunger, the world is losing
ground, he said.
The number of undernourished people is rising to more than
820 million in 2017.
""In our world of plenty, one person in every nine does not
have enough to eat.
"Around 155 million children are chronically malnourished and
may suffer the effects of stunting for their entire lives."
There are many reasons for this reversal, including spreading
conflict, growing inequality and the impact of climate change.
But without ending hunger everywhere, the international
community cannot be satisfied with the progress on the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development anywhere, he said.
"In our interconnected world, peace, stability and prosperity
on a healthy planet depend on leaving no one behind," he noted.
In 2017, more than 20 million people across northeastern
Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen faced famine or
These conditions continue in many parts of the world today,
derailing hard-won development gains in chronically poor
countries, according to the press release.
Today, 124 million people live in crisis levels of food
insecurity, requiring urgent humanitarian assistance for their
Over half of them live in areas affected by conflict, it
During the spring meetings in 2017 between the World Bank and
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kim and Guterres
committed themselves to zero tolerance for famine.
As a follow-up, the World Bank, the United Nations, the
International Committee of the Red Cross and other global
partners began to develop FAM.
FAM will initially be rolled out in a small group of
Leaders dedicated to this initiative will gather as part of
the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in October to discuss further
implementation of FAM, said the press release.