Statement on High Level Meeting on Famine and Fragility "Toward Zero Tolerance for Famine"

April 22, 2017

Signaling a great urgency to respond to the current famine and famine risks, particularly in the Middle East and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim co-chaired a high-level meeting on famine and fragility on April 22, 2017, at the World Bank Group Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

To move toward a world with zero tolerance for famine, about 50 leaders of multilateral development banks, UN agencies, donor partners, non-governmental organizations and others discussed the need for relevant stakeholders in accordance with their mandate to:

  • provide political leadership to end the crises that are exacerbating severe food insecurity and famine conditions, and urge leaders of affected countries to be accountable to their own people and take the necessary actions to prevent loss of life and suffering;
  • ensure access to all affected populations, respecting International Humanitarian Law;  
  • respond to current crises as well as prevent the recurrence of others, aligned with World Humanitarian Summit principles to “do more, and do it better.”  

Grounded in these principles, leaders expressed their strong commitment to build on comparative advantages in three action areas:

1-     Access

Estimates suggest that there are at least 2.5 million people who face acute food insecurity because of active conflict or other hurdles, which the global community cannot reach. More people can be reached through cooperation, including by channeling funds to partners with access and presence on the ground.

2-     Immediate Priorities and Efficient Delivery

Currently, only 20% of urgent needs are funded. Collectively, adequate resources must be provided and channeled flexibly and efficiently to amplify their benefits. Adequate multi-year funding for the humanitarian response, data sharing and joint analysis, coordinated use of cash-based programming are some areas for consideration.

3-     Longer Term Risk Mitigation and Management  

Protecting and stimulating markets and livelihoods is important to support the longer term resilience agenda. In Yemen, for instance, this means helping restore basic central banking functions so that the payments system works and local traders can obtain foreign exchange. Active collaboration to prepare for the next crisis is also needed, ranging from the use of smarter early warning systems, to developing better contingent, market-based financial products for natural disasters in fragile, conflict, and violence-affected areas.  

Leaders agreed to share an assessment of progress during a high level side event during UNGA.