Famine like never before ‘in modern world history’ for 4 African countries

3.5 million+ people populate the city of Los Angeles, CA, a densely-packed expanse of 10 major city divisions and 80 districts and neighborhoods. That’s 1,413,995 housing units – 2,812.8 units in one square mile. Millions upon millions of neighbors, friends, loved ones. 

The UN has just stated that 20,000,000 people – than more than five times the massive size of Los Angeles – are in hunger crises. Famine has been declared. 

What does ‘famine’ mean?

Famine is a term designating that 30% of a country’s population is acutely malnourished, with 2 adults per every 10,000 dying per day, or 4 children per every 10,000.

If we’re using LA as a standard of measurement, that is 700 adults dying every day in the city; 1,400 children. Every day. The equivalent of a packed high school football stadium every week. 

Where is it happening?

South Sudan has just declared a state of famine, with Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen on the brink. About half of Somalia – 6 million people (millions of LA-sized housing units) – are barely coping with intense food shortages, 2.9 million are severely food insecure. The Washington Post reported 2 days ago of new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ first field visit to the country:

“Conflict, drought, disease — the combination is a nightmare,” Guterres said Tuesday. 

How did this happen?

It’s hard to wrap our mind around. In a ‘developed’ world, where millions are literally having groceries delivered to their door via an app on their $600 smartphone, millions of others are dying daily from perfectly preventable diseases like cholera, starving, and in want for the most basic human needs. How in the heck..?!

There is no easy answer (and we won’t pretend to encompass the entirety of a nation’s complicated history in this brief post). However, major contributing factors specific to this area can be summed up in two categories:

1. Conflict

In the case of Somalia, its people have been in almost constant struggle since an outbreak of civil war in 1991. With armed soldiers blocking humanitarian aid, those displaced are unable to receive much of the care that they need. 

2. Drought/Environment

When agriculture fails, life subsequently follows suit – both livestock and humans. The struggle to produce sustainable crops is tied up in a vicious circle of being both a result and cause of further conflict. The health ramifications are complicated and pervasive.

What can I do?

1. Speak

When word gets out – loud enough – and lands at the feet of those who have the power or resources to take action, major change happens. It. cannot. happen. without. voices. Everything you know, you were told. So tell someone! Get a conversation going. (Kinda like we’re doing right now)

2. Give

Humanitarian aid funds, like that of the UN, are the big players in seeing that money is used for the provision of food, water, and other basic needs. If you would like to help organizations like these, please refer to the list below, provided by our social good dreamboat, Global Citizen


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): Fund in South Sudan

World Food Programme

UNICEF, South Sudan



International Committee of the Red Cross: Sudan Crisis Appeal



Christian Aid South Sudan

International Rescue Committee

Action Against Hunger


Save the Children

Christian Aid Nigeria

Street Child

International Committee of the Red Cross: Nigeria and Lake Chad Crisis Appeal

Unicef, Nigeria


OCHA: Fund in Somalia

World Vision Somalia Relief Fund

Doctors Without Borders

Concern Worldwide Somalia Appeal

UNICEF, Somalia


OCHA: Fund in Yemen

Disasters Emergency Committee


International Rescue Committee

To leaving the world better for having us,
Photo Adrienne Bingham
Adrienne Bingham
Blog Coordinator

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.