Famine Fast Facts

Women and children sit inside a shelter  August 6, 1992 at a feeding center run by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baidoha, Somalia. The shelter was established to feed a few thousand of the 30,000 refugees suffering from famine, severe drought and the effects of 18 months of civil war.

(CNN)Here is a look at famine, a severe and prolonged hunger in a significant portion of a region or country's population that results in malnutrition and death by starvation and disease.

To assess a country's food security, the United Nations uses the five-phase scale known as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).
Famine can stem from natural causes such as droughts, floods, earthquakes, insect plagues and plant disease. It can also stem from man-made causes such as wars, civil disturbances, sieges and deliberate crop destruction.
    Famine results from a triple failure of food production, access to food and response.

    Basic Definitions

    Undernutrition - The outcome of prolonged insufficient food intake and/or low absorption of food consumed. This generally applies to energy levels, but may also relate to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
    Undernourishment or Chronic Hunger - The status of persons when food consumption regularly provides less than their minimum energy requirements. The average minimum energy requirement per person is about 1,800 kilocalories (kilocalories are commonly referred to as calories) per day. (The exact requirement is determined by a person's age, body size, activity level and physiological conditions such as illness, infection, pregnancy and lactation).
    Malnutrition - A general term for a range of circumstances that inhibit good health, caused by insufficient or unbalanced food intake or from poor absorption of food consumed. The term refers to both undernutrition (food deprivation) and overnutrition (excessive food consumption with regards to energy requirements).
    Food security - Exists when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life.
    Food insecurity - Exists when people lack access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food, and therefore do not consume enough for an active and healthy life. The situation may result from unavailability of food, inadequate purchasing power, or inappropriate food distribution at the household level.

    Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Acute Food Insecurity Phases

    Phase 1: None/Minimal
    Phase 2: Stressed
    Phase 3: Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis
    Phase 4: Humanitarian Emergency
    Phase 5: Famine/Humanitarian Catastrophe

    Phase 5 - Famine/Humanitarian Catastrophe thresholds

    Crude mortality rates exceed two deaths per 10,000 people per day.
    Global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates exceed 30%.
    Body Mass Index (BMI) is less than 18.5, where prevalence far exceeds 40%.
    Extreme inadequacy to meet food consumption requirements.
    Less than four liters of safe water available per person per day.

    Number and Prevalence (%) of Undernourished in the World

    (Source: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
    1990-1992 - 1,010.6 million (18.6% of the world)
    2005 - 825.6 million (12.6% of the world)
    2010 - 668.2 million (9.6% of the world)
    2015 - 653.3 million (8.9% of the world)
    2016 - 657.6 million (8.8% of the world)
    2017 - 653.2 million (8.7% of the world)
    2018 - 678.1 million (8.9% of the world)
    2019 (projected) - 687.8 million (8.9% of the world)

    Percentage of the Population in a Condition of Undernourishment

    1990-1992 - 27.6% of Africa, 23.6% of Asia, 14.7% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 15.7% of Oceania
    2005 - 21.0% of Africa, 14.4% of Asia, 8.7% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5.6% of Oceania
    2010 - 18.9% of Africa, 10.1% of Asia, 6.7% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5.4% of Oceania
    2015 - 18.3% of Africa, 8.8% of Asia, 6.2% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5.5% of Oceania
    2016 - 18.5% of Africa, 8.5% of Asia, 6.7% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5.9% of Oceania
    2017 - 18.6% of Africa, 8.2% of Asia, 6.8% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 6.0% of Oceania
    2018 - 18.6% of Africa, 8.4% of Asia, 7.3% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5.7% of Oceania
    2019 (projected) - 19.1% of Africa, 8.3% of Asia, 7.4% of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5.8% of Oceania

    Timeline of Selected Famines (one million or more deaths,1900-present)

    1921-1922 - Famine in the Soviet Union, results in 9 million deaths.
    1927 - In China (northwest), 3 to 6 million perish.
    1929 - Famine in China (Hunan Province), results in 2 million deaths.
    1932-1933 - In the Soviet Union (Ukraine), 7 to 8 million people die.
    1930-1933 - In the Soviet Union (Kazakhstan), more than 1.5 million people die.
    1943 - Famine in China (Henan), results in 3 to 5 million deaths.
    1943 - In India (Bengal), 2.1-3 million perish.
    1943-1945 - In Indonesia (Java), 2.4 million people die.