Frontline Stories

Learn about Hunger

When is a famine declared?

Famine has a technical definition based on food security and nutrition. For a famine to be declared there must be evidence of the following three conditions:
  • At least 20% of the population has fewer than 2,100 calories of food a day;
  • Acute malnutrition in more than 30% of children; and
  • The death rate must exceed two deaths per 10,000 people, or four child deaths per 10,000 people per day.
East and West Africa are two of the hardest hit regions by drought, food crisis and famine. In 2011 and 2012, the United Nations declared famine in six regions of Somalia.


What’s the difference between drought, food crisis, and famine?

DROUGHT – There isn’t enough water

It is a climatic condition characterised with prolonged and sustained length of time of abnormally low or no rainfall. Human intervention in the natural environment, pollution, deforestation all contributed to this natural disaster.

FOOD CRISIS – There isn’t enough food and water

A combination of drought, rising food prices, poverty, natural disasters, conflicts, global food prices, disease, and complex emergencies. A food crisis develops when families experience these stresses for several years and run out of ways to cope, and governments and aid agencies fail to intervene.

FAMINE – There isn’t enough food and water for people to stay alive

Severe and widespread shortage of food, that results in large-scale starvation, malnourishment and death. Leads to disease outbreaks and economic and social collapse of the community.
Famine is more of a manmade disaster than a drought, and therefore more easily preventable than a drought.

How do we measure malnutrition in children?

One way to measure malnutrition in children is to use a middle-upper-arm-circumference tool (MUAC). There are 3 different colour zones on the armband, each representing a nutritional status.

The photo here shows a health worker measuring Alhousanne, a 6-month-old girl in Niger.

Alhousanne's measurement from the MUAC showed red (at only 9cm), indicating that she was severely malnourished. Her skin had become unresponsive to touch. Her mother Rakia was very worried and clearly malnourished herself. At only 17 with three children already, it is obvious that this isn't just the failed harvest that has caused this. Childhood marriage and motherhood have contributed to poor maternal nutrition. Her babies were born very small and she struggles to feed them.

Click here for further information on global hunger situation.


Peacebuilding can Start with Children

[2022/01/21] “Peace is like our daily food, we need it as much as we need food to live well and in harmony with one another f......

East or West, Home is Best

[2022/01/21] “I’ve been running throughout my life. I’m now too old. I can’t run anymore. My only wish for my country is peac......

3D-printed Limbs Bring Students Closer to Technology and Disaster Relief

[2021/09/13] During summer 2021, 39 students from 21 secondary schools gathered at the University of Hong Kong to attend Worl......

Sharing from Global Citizen Internship Programme Interns 2021

[2021/08/19] In summer 2021, World Vision launched an Global Citizen Internship Programme and recruited local university stud......

Celebrating Families: A model for reconciliation

[2021/04/16] What is said in the Bible is still happening today in Chad, where the rights of many children are neglected by ......

After a Decade of War, Here is What Syrian Children Would Like to Say…

[2021/04/14] We meet with two Syrian boys in a refugee camp in Jordan to hear about their lives and aspirations.

Sharing from local interns 2020

[2021/03/09] 5 university students joined World Vision Hong Kong as local interns during 2020. Apart from learning about deve......

From a Female Circumciser to an Child Advocate

[2020/11/13] Paka, in her seventies, was a female circumciser in Kenya. Female circumcision is also called female genital mut......

Teachers share their experiences of the tour to Myanmar

[2020/10/22] During Chinese New Year in 2020, ten local teachers from primary and secondary schools joined a World Vision tou......



--> -->