It takes a lot to declare a famine.
If a population can’t find enough food it’s not strictly a famine. Nor is it famine if one third of the population is severely malnourished.
The United Nations’ definition of famine is when three conditions coincide: at least 20 per cent of a population faces extreme food shortages, 30 per cent of people experience acute malnutrition, and at least two people per 10,000 die every day.
This week both the UN and the World Food Program agreed with South Sudan’s decision to declare a state of famine in parts of the country’s south.