Can Mapping Prevent World Hunger?

The Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) is an online tool that demonstrates the importance of having accurate and up to date information. FEWS keeps tabs on the developing world and shows the importance of how this information is expressed. In its essence, FEWS is a map which lays out potential famine threats across the world. Through the analysis of various factors, particularly those relating to short-term shortages of food or increases in malnutrition, FEWS creates a map which predicts the risk that a certain area has of falling into food insecurity.

FEWS was developed by the US Agency for International Development and is available online for those wishing to access its information with the objective of preventing famines in the world by identifying their symptoms before they occur. The FEWS system is an ICT tool that allows USAID as well as other agencies and non-profits knowledge of better targets for their projects as well as which factors they should target.

Although FEWS seems to be an excellent ICT tool to prevent world hunger, it has certain shortcomings that do not allow it to completely fulfill its mission. In the article Early Warning, Late Response (again): The 2011 Famine in Somalia, published in the Global Food Security magazine, the shortcomings of the FEWS system and its limited uses as an ICT tool are detailed. The  article points out a missing link between the early warning system and response system. The article insists that although the FEWS system provides information, it is only enough when the food crisis is already underway. FEWS triggers responses from last-resource groups such as food alleviation organizations, rather than prevention projects. This only leads to temporary fixes rather than long term solutions.

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3 responses to “Can Mapping Prevent World Hunger?

  • elladove

    While I agree that the FEWS system is a great way to warn about impeding famine, I also beleive mapping can be used to better allocate food and water resources and map the areas in most dire need with the leat resources, to prevent famine from poor allocation ad planning of food resources.

  • dolson2110

    Although I don’t think the FEWS system alone will end world hunger, it will certainly contribute to its diminishing. Obviously the more forces that join in a collaborative effort the better, of which I’m curious if a program that uses crowdsourcing could potentially bring great impact in food security. Something like OSM, in which people can openly add food resources, areas with famine etc., should be explored in the planning and allocation of food resources.

  • eturner1

    I agree with the “Early Warning” article, especially in terms of offering solutions to the problem. While it is a great start to have these threats be broadcasted and shared publicly, it seems that the FEWS system should be linked with another organization to help face the potential famines.

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