Famines are acute food crises, usually after drought or due to armed conflict. Famine is the worst form of food shortage. In addition to old people, babies and small children are especially threatened by starvation. According to the United Nations definition (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification), there is a famine if at least:

20% of households suffer from extreme food shortages,30% of the population is acutely malnourished; andTwo out of every 10,000 people, or four children, die daily from food shortages.

One of the worst hunger crises of the past 25 years was the famine in East Africa in 2011/12. In war-torn Somalia, 260,000 people starved to death, including 133,000 children under the age of five.

Sub-Saharan Africa is also a hotbed of chronic hunger due to extreme poverty. According to the FAO definition, people suffer from chronic hunger if their daily energy intake for an extended period of time is below what they would need for a healthy and active life. The lower limit is an average of 1,800 calories per day. 

According to this measure, 226.7 million people are starving in Africa. The countries most affected by extreme poverty and hunger in Africa are mainly those located south of the Sahara. One in four people suffers from hunger there – which means that the share of the world's hungry is highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the sub-Saharan region, 40% to 50% of people live below the poverty line, meaning they have a daily income that is on average below $1.25. This means that sub-Saharan Africa, along with southern Asia, is one of the poorest regions in the world.

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