Here is some background information about 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).
Causes of famine can stem from natural causes such as droughts, floods, earthquakes, insect plagues and plant disease; or 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 1800 kcal 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; 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. Situation may result from unavailability of food, inadequate purchasing power, or inappropriate distribution at the household level.
Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phases: Phase 1: Generally Food Secure Phase 2: Moderately/Borderline Food Insecure 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 2 deaths per 10,000 people per day.
Global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates exceed 30 per cent.
Food consumption below 2,100 kilocalories per person per day, as well as an extreme lack of nutrients.
Less than 4 liters of water available per person per day.
Number and Percentage of Undernourished in the World: 1969-1971 - 878 million (26 percent of world)
1979-1981 - 853 million (21 percent of world)
1990-1992 - 848 million (16 percent of world)
1995-1997 - 792 million (14 percent of world)
2000-2002 - 836 million (14 percent of world)
2006-2008 - 850 million (13 percent of world)
2010-2012 - 870 million (12.5 percent of world)
Percentage of the Population in a Condition of Undernourishment: 1990-1992 - 26 percent of Africa, 12 percent of Latin American and the Caribbean, 20 percent of Asia, 12 percent of Oceania
1995-1997 - 26 percent of Africa, 11 percent of Latin American and the Caribbean, 16 percent of Asia, 11 percent of Oceania
2000-2002 - 24 percent of Africa, 10 percent of Latin American and the Caribbean, 16 percent of Asia, 13 percent of Oceania
2006-2008 - 23 percent of Africa, 8 percent of Latin American and the Caribbean, 15 percent of Asia, 12 percent of Oceania