Global Coalition to Use Technology, Data and AI to Predict and Prevent Famines
UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
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The UN, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross, Microsoft, Google and Amazon have joined forces to create the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM).

FAM will use state-of-the-art technology, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, to predict and prevent future famines.

The mechanism is expected to improve early warning and inform preventive interventions to save lives and reduce the cost of humanitarian crises response.

23 September 2018: The World Bank and partners have launched the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM), a global partnership of international organizations and leading technology companies, dedicated to preventing future famines.

Most action to relive famine occurs after disaster or conflict have already caused millions of casualties and famine has become widespread like in the current crises in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen or South Sudan. The FAM partnership aims to shift global action from a mode of crises response to crises prevention by building capacities to predict future crises through the gathering and analysis of data on the risk of famine.

Led by the UN, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross, Microsoft, Google and Amazon, the coalition will use the predictive power of data to identify areas for early intervention and preparedness thus improving the allocation and effectiveness of available funding. Building on existing systems, FAM will explore the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve early warning and identification of food crises that risk turning into famines. These warnings will be used to deploy prearranged funding and action plans for earlier and more efficient interventions.

FAM will promote interventions that address the first signs of emerging food crises.

According to a World Bank, the mechanism will promote interventions that address the first signs of emerging food crises, including safety nets and coping mechanisms. This shift towards preventive measures is expected to save millions of lives and reduce the cost of crisis intervention by up to 30%.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), which maintains several early warning mechanisms and data bases, welcomed the establishment of FAM, while emphasizing the need to involve local stakeholders to “catalyze consensus on food-security analyses from governments and local actors.”

The mechanism will be piloted in a small group of countries in the fall of 2018, followed by a global rollout. In October, leaders participating in the initiative are expected to discuss further implementation at the sidelines of fall meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). [World Bank Press Release] [FAM Overview and Video] [FAO Press Release]

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