The widespread scarcity of food which is caused by several factors including inflation, war, government policies, crop failure, population imbalance has been a mainstay of societies engaged in subsistence agriculture since the dawn of agriculture.
- Giants tech companies Microsoft, Google and Amazon are collaborating with the international organizations to help identify and wipe out famines in developing nations with the use of artificial intelligence and data analysis, this new initiative was unveiled on Sunday.
During the 20th century, an estimated number of 70 million people died from famines across the world, of whom an estimated number of 30 million people died during the famine of 1958 – 1961 in China and it appears that despite the improvement in the world’s technology, famine still remains a live threatening situation across the world.
The World Bank and the United Nations announced in a joint statement that, rather than waiting to respond to famine after many lives already have been lost. The tech firms “will use the predictive power of data to trigger funding” to take action before it leads or becomes crisis.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement, “The fact that millions of people — many of them children — still suffer from severe malnutrition and famine in the 21st century is a global tragedy, we are forming an unprecedented global coalition to say, ‘no more’.”
In Nigeria, more than 20 million people faced famine conditions last year and this also happened in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. While currently 124 million people live in crisis levels of food, requiring urgent humanitarian assistance for survival, insecurity, said the agencies. And over half of theses people live in conflict affected area.
- Early warning signs to identify food crises that could become famines would be provided by the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM) and allow early intervention plans to trigger pre-arranged funding.
The Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement, “If we can better predict when and where future famines will occur, we can save lives by responding earlier and more effectively.”
- Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and other technology firms are contributing in the provision of expertise to develop a suite of analytical models called “Artemis” that uses AI and machine learning to estimate and forecast real-time worsening food security crises. Forecasting these would help guide and promote earlier response of decision makers.
“Artificial Intelligence and machine learning hold huge promise for forecasting and detecting early signs of food shortages, like crop failures, droughts, natural disasters, and conflicts,” said Smith.
On October 13th, leaders dedicated to this new initiative will gather as part of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia to discuss further implementation. The Famine Action Mechanism (FAM) will initially be rolled out in a small group of vulnerable countries establishing up to ultimately provide global coverage.