Explainer: What is famine, when is it declared and why are Gaza and Sudan at risk?

Conflict means millions of people in Gaza and Sudan are severely struggling to access food.

Famine occurs when a country has such a severe food shortage that its population faces acute malnutrition, starvation, or death.

The status is generally declared by the United Nations (UN), sometimes in conjunction with the country's government, and often alongside other international aid organisations or humanitarian agencies.

It is decided using a UN scale called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

This ranks a country's food shortages - or insecurity - against five "phases" of severity, with famine the fifth and worst.

But for a famine to be officially declared, three things need to happen in a specific geographical area:

  • at least 20% of households face an extreme lack of food
  • at least 30% of children suffer acute malnutrition
  • two adults or four children per 10,000 people die each day "due to outright starvation or to the interaction of malnutrition and disease"

When I read stuff like this, I understand the "reptilian intergalactic alien" accusations. Reptilian is correct, in that so many among us operate only on the "reptilian brain" (amygdala - flight, flight, freeze, fawn), and it's difficult to admit that this is a very human condition, especially when it's "our side." It's even more difficult to admit it's from multigenerational trauma from multigenerational, toxic waste ideas from our most treasured religions (somehow the purported Jesus ideals are never included) indoctrination. I'm not saying "all religion and religious people are evil incarnate." I am agreeing with the journalist, Chris Hedges, who said, "religion makes a good man good and a bad man bad "

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