The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) is an activity of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that provides timely food security information for 29 countries in Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and Central Asia. The activity dates back to the mid-1980s as it was designed to prevent the repeat of the food security catastrophe that affected Africa in the early-1980s, especially in Sudan and Ethiopia where more than a million people died for lack of food.
FEWS NET is a partnership between USAID, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Chemonics International who has been implementing field activities for FEWS NET since 2000. FEWS NET professionals in the Africa, Central America, Haiti, Afghanistan and the United States monitor and analyze relevant data and information in terms of its impacts on livelihoods and markets to identify potential threats to food security. Once these issues are identified, FEWS NET uses a suite of communications and decision support products to help decision makers act to mitigate food insecurity. These products include monthly food security updates, regular food security outlooks, and alerts, as well as briefings and support to contingency and response planning efforts. More in-depth studies in areas such as livelihoods and markets provide additional information to support analysis as well as program and policy development.
FEWS NET also focuses its efforts on strengthening early warning and food security networks. Activities in this area include developing capacity, building and strengthening networks, developing policy-useful information, and building consensus around food security problems and solutions.