According to the 2018 Global Report on Food Crises, an estimated 124 million people worldwide face crisis-level or worse food insecurity, largely as a result of conflict and political instability or extreme weather events.

The need for reliable, timely information regarding food production and availability, food prices, and hunger levels goes beyond simply responding to such periods of food crisis; proper data and information can help policymakers anticipate food security crises in order to mitigate the severity of their effects. A number of early warning systems have been established to collect, analyze, and disseminate such information at the global and the country levels; while not comprehensive, this list provides several of the major early warning systems available.

  • Food Security Portal Excessive Food Price Variability Early Warning System: This tool provides a visual representation of historical periods of excessive global price volatility from 2000-present, as well as a daily volatility status. This status can alert policymakers when world markets are experiencing a period of excessive food price volatility; this information can then be used to determine appropriate country-level food security responses, such as the release of physical food stocks.
  • Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net): Established by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), FEWS Net provides evidence-based early warning information and analysis on acute food insecurity in order to help policymakers and relief agencies plan for and respond to humanitarian crises more effectively. FEWS Net covers more than 36 of the world's most food-insecure countries and provides a range of publications, including monthly reports on current and projected food insecurity, alerts on emerging crises, and specialized reports on weather and climate, markets and trade, agricultural production, nutrition, and food assistance needs.
  • FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS): GIEWS monitors food supply and demand and other key food security indicators at the country level in order to provide early warnings of impending national and regional food crises. GIEWS also builds national capacities to collect and manage food security-related information and to enact evidence-based policy decisions.
  • FAO's Early Warning - Early Action (EWEA) System: The EWEA system translates early warnings of food security crises into anticipatory action to help reduce the impact of disasters. The system consolidates available data and forecast information in order to help FAO and partnering countries and development agencies prepare a plan of action to respond to impending crises. The EWEA system produces quarterly reports that monitor major global risks to agriculture and food security.
  • Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC): The IPC system provides a standardized scale integrating food security, nutrition, and livelihood information to produce a clear statement regarding the nature and severity of food insecurity, as well as implications for potential strategic responses to periods of food crisis. The IPC is currently used in over 25 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
  • The Global Report on Food Crises, an annual report published by the Food Security Information Network, brings together data and analysis from these separate early warning systems to provide a reference for coordinating humanitarian and development responses to ongoing and anticipated crises. The FSIN is a global initiative, established by FAO, WFP and IFPRI, to strengthen food and nutrition security information systems for producing reliable and accurate data to inform analysis and evidence-based policymaking. Download the 2018 Global Report on Food Crises and read a blog on the report's main findings.