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Using Early Warning Systems to Prevent and Alleviate Famine

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network—FEWS NET—identifies indicators of possible food insecurity and famine to help decision-makers deploy resources in advance.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) is a global effort that delivers early warnings of hazard, food insecurity, vulnerability to food insecurity, and famine. Funded by USAID and administered by Chemonics, FEWS NET increases and improves the quality and quantity of information used to monitor food security, needs assessments, preparedness, and response planning. The program develops national and regional emergency early warning and food monitoring and assessment capabilities.


The project brings together international and local organizations and institutions to deliver up-to-date analysis weather patterns, food prices, and agricultural trends to predict where and when people are at risk for food insecurity. Using GIS and other technologies, FEWS NET pinpoints exact locations and allows donors and governments to deploy resources in advance. See the FEWS NET website for the latest reports.

FEWS NET shares information and helps assess the vulnerability of groups at risk for severe under-consumption, under-nutrition, malnutrition, and starvation, while simultaneously exploring suitable means for improving access to food. Increasingly, this task has grown to include providing information on potential opportunities for development initiatives by identifying linkages between food security-related areas, such as agriculture, market and trade, health, and economic policy reform.

Through FEWS NET, Chemonics and USAID are empowering governments, regional organizations, and communities to find solutions to food insecurity by improving information systems and providing the tools that decision makers need to adequately address food security issues. Partnering with local governments, regional institutions, donor agencies, the USGS, USDA, NOAA, and NASA, FEWS NET partners share and analyze agro-climatic and household livelihood data with agricultural production information, market, and food distribution.

Beyond analyzing current trends, FEWS NET also examines food market systems and their roles in assuring food security. The focus is on identifying factors that affect the market’s retail functions, as well as import/export policies, internal trade and movements of food, infrastructure issues, and financial environment.

FEWS NET’s technical team is housed in Chemonics’ Washington, D.C., office, and the program operates more than two dozen regional and national offices all over the world with recent task orders in Haiti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan.

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