Do Famine Declarations Really Lead to Increased Funding?

Thumbnail of Report "Do Famine Declarations Really Lead to Increased Funding?

Throughout 2022, as the situation worsened in the Horn of Africa, there were numerous calls from journalists and humanitarian leaders for famine to be declared. These calls repeatedly asserted that a declaration of famine would open up the spigots of funding, enabling enough money to flow to respond to the crisis at scale. These calls appear to be based on the one-time experience of Somalia 2011, when funding did ramp up dramatically in the wake of a declaration. They seem to ignore the evidence that this is the only famine declaration in more than a decade that has led to increased funding.

This policy brief examines the relationship between famine declarations and funding since 2011. It shows that, with that one exception, there is little evidence that famine declarations actually result in a rapid increase in funding. The authors argue that paying much closer attention to early warning is far better than simply lowering the bar for a declaration. In fact, this analysis offers some evidence that projections and warning statements do trigger greater prioritization, but not in all cases. Linking good analysis and warning to timely action continues to challenge the humanitarian system.






Thumbnail image of report cover

This study examines how anticipatory action was perceived and experienced among Ethiopians living with drought alongside other crises.

Thumbnail image of cover

This learning brief presents preliminary findings on strategic mobility and its nutritional benefits to pastoral and agropastoral communities in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties, Kenya.

Image of Brief Cover: Actingin in Advance of Flooding

In 2022 UN OCHA led a pilot anticipatory action intervention in South Sudan. This brief presents UN actors’ perceptions of this intervention.

Cover of Report "Sex, age (and more) still matter"

This report reviews progress, outlines barriers to further progress, and makes recommendations to advance gender equality in the humanitarian system.

Picture of report cover "Co-investigators but with different power"

Building on a previous report on the localization of humanitarian assistance, this study focuses on issues unique to the localization of humanitarian research.

Thumbnail of Famine Prevention Report Cover

This study reviews what we have learned regarding policies and interventions to prevent famine, and how these can be scaled up more rapidly.

Load more