FEWS NET: A Famine Early Warning System

Ever since the Indian Ocean tsunami in December of 2004, there has been a push for early warning systems of all types. One system in place even before this natural disaster is FEWS NET, or Famine Early Warning System Network. According to their website, FEWS NET was developed in 1985 by USAID. They saw a need for an early warning system to detect food insecurity after famines in East and West Africa. Now, FEWS NET allows agencies to plan for and respond to food insecurity disasters.

Check out this video about FEWS NET. Jim Verdin from USGS says that FEWS NET is “an activity that boils down to simply paying attention”. He further explains that FEWS NET is in place to ensure that devastating famine no longer occurs in the developing world.

One current example of how FEWS NET functions as an early warning system involves the drought in Haiti. Because FEWS NET tracks the weather patterns, agricultural production, and food prices in Haiti, Haiti was able to offset the effects of the drought and the spread of the drought by arranging for food rations from sources such as the United Nations’ World Food Programme.


One response to “FEWS NET: A Famine Early Warning System

  • jboleky

    My professor Dr. Bertrand is actually very involved with the FEWS net project and i asked him some questions about it after class. He really likes the program and thinks it can help certain areas under the right conditions. However he did say that there are many limitations to FEWS net project and that it should serve as a general plan, and is not specific enough to use without looking at corroborating data and the situation as a whole. He seemed to emphasize that FEWS net was not a panacea but rather a helpful general guide. Dr. Bertrand is very knowledgeable about food security and development and this project is a result of his lifetime work and many months of work. I completely agree with Dr. Bertrand
    about FEWS net and think its a great GENERAL guide. Dr. Bertrand is a professor at Tulane and used to be its vice-president, he teaches Food security and sustainable development. I wonder if a program like this could be made for other development issues like migration, poverty, or water issues.

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