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The IPC Famine factsheet (updated December 2020)



The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) defines famine as an extreme deprivation of food. Starvation, death, destitution and extremely critical levels of acute malnutrition are or will likely be evident.
A Famine classification (IPC Phase 5) is the highest phase of the IPC Acute Food Insecurity scale, and is attributed when an area has at least 20% of households facing an extreme lack of food, at least 30% of children suffering from acute malnutrition, and two people for every 10,000 dying each day due to outright starvation or to the interaction of malnutrition and disease.


The IPC Acute Food Insecurity scale has become the global standard for the classification of acute food insecurity. It is used principally to inform decisions on resource allocation and programming globally and within countries, especially for countries experiencing recurrent or protracted food crises.


Famine is a classification of IPC Phase 5 at area level. In a given area, famine occurs when food security, nutrition and mortality altogether portray famine conditions, meaning at least 20% of the population is affected, with about one out of three children being acutely malnourished and two people dying per day for every 10,000 inhabitants due to outright starvation or to the interaction of malnutrition and disease.

Catastrophe: Households may be classified in IPC Phase 5 Catastrophe even if the area is not classified in IPC Phase 5 Famine. This is the case when less than 20 percent of the population is experiencing famine conditions and/or when malnutrition and/or mortality levels have not (or not yet) reached famine thresholds. Even if an area has not been classified as being in Famine, it is still crucial to identify households that are facing Catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity