release n° 01/2017


an initiative by

Focus on


“More than 20 million people in four countries - Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria - are facing starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, ‘people will simply starve to death’ and ‘many more will suffer and die from disease’, Stephen O’Brien, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the security council in New York.”

These words were published in the Guardian on the 11th March, and the issue is quickly gaining public attention across the world, due in large part to the significant number of people affected equivalent to the population of Romania or one of the larger US states such as Florida. It’s therefore easy to understand why this topic was picked as the “Focus” of the Food Sustainability Report, analysing the impact the issue has made on international websites in four specific areas: MEDIA; LEGISLATION; INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES & NGOs; and RESEARCH.

As illustrated in the table below, the word “famine” appears on almost 90% of news websites, highlighting the extent to which the issue has “penetrated” the media. Also of note is the number of mentions on websites belonging to international agencies and NGOs, who are on the frontline dealing with the emergency. However, there are fewer mentions in the other two areas, so few in fact as to be statistically insignificant.

From the analysis of the most frequently used words, it is clear that the US is perceived as having a fundamental role. The countries at the greatest risk of famine are shown in the map, and although certain countries in East Africa are foremost, it should also be noted that many other places across the world - such as Syria, North Korea, etc. - are also at risk.
Following the official warning from Stephen Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, focus turned to his words which have frequently been quoted on the media.
Famine / Media
Within the MEDIA category, beyond the general observations noted above, what stands out most is the expression “man-made famine”. This demonstrates that news providers recognise that famine is not a “natural” phenomenon, but rather the result of choices made by mankind which, if not changed soon, will further endanger the health of the planet and its inhabitants.
Here are the top 10 news websites ranked by their focus on the issue:
In this category, keyword analysis reveals an emphasis on verbs such as “support”, “including”, and words such as “hunger” and “humanitarian assistance”.
Finally, here are the top 10 websites belonging to international agencies and NGOs ranked by their focus on the issue. First position is held by the United Nations, with more than 56% of total mentions.
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