The Early Warning Hub brings together information from across Early Warning Systems in one place. Early Warning Systems (EWS) alert to the presence of food crises and related drivers, informing decision makers and saving lives.
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 section provides several of the major early warning systems available.
This tool also aims to serve as an early warning hub, providing up-to-date information and news regarding the latest food security alerts and situations on the ground.
Early Warning System overview
Navigating Early Warning Systems
Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS)
The Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) was one of the first global sources of information on food production and food security. GIEWS provides part of the input used for Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) and by extension FAO’s Early Warning Early Action system.
GIEWS monitors food supply and demand and other key food security indicators at the country level. Geospatial data is analyzed to pick up on weather-related, food security-impacting changes. Based on this, GIEWS generates regular reports on markets and crop production conditions and provides early warning of impending food crises at country and regional level.
GIEWS incorporates a range of information and data in its early warning system including the following:
- Qualitative information from FAO’s regional and country offices.
- The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and rainfall estimates.
- FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index System (ASIS), which detects areas with a high likelihood of water stress.
- Price and market data.
GIEWS provides several early warning-related resources:
- The Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report (quarterly) - focuses on cereal production outlook and market situation as well as food security conditions in low income food deficit countries. This includes a list of countries requiring external assistance for food.
- Food Outlook - Global Market Analysis (biannual) – focuses on developments affecting global food and feed markets, with commodity assessments and forecasts.
- Alerts and updates related to alarming food security situations and food supply anomalies.
- The GIEWS Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) system and accompanying bulletins that report on food price developments.
- Data related to Country Cereal Balance Sheets (CCBS), food prices, and earth observation for crop monitoring.
FAO's Early Warning - Early Action (EWEA) System
FAO Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) uses a consultative process that takes into account the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS), the Food Chain Crisis and Emergency Prevention System (FCC-EMPRES), and other sources of information. Its purpose is to consolidate 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.
EWEA takes into account three areas in its classification of countries: the likelihood of occurrence (the probability that within the time period considered either a new disaster risk or the significant deterioration of the situation will occur), potential impact - classified into five levels, and country capacity to cope with current/potential crises. Based on this, the countries of concern are categorized as high risk and on watch:
- High risk - indicating a strong likelihood of a new emergency or deterioration of a current situation with potentially severe effects on agriculture and food security.
- On watch - indicating a relatively more moderate likelihood of an emergency or deterioration, which requires close monitoring.
The process involves identifying countries where there are indications of stressed situations and triangulating the information with other datasets and early warning systems. EWEA then produces a quarterly report, involving early warning analysis with early action recommendations for mitigating or preventing the impact.
WFP Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) - Market Monitor
The WFP VAM market monitor bulletin provides information regarding the latest price changes for commonly consumed staple foods around the world, as well as the potential impacts of those changes on the cost of the basic food basket.
Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net)
FEWS Net provides evidence-based early warning information and analysis covering more than 36 of the world's most food-insecure countries, including monthly reports on current and projected food insecurity; alerts on emerging crises; and other specialized reports on weather and climate, markets and trade, and agricultural production.
Inputs include the following:
- Data on changes in area planted and crop yield
- Data from field assessments
- Market and price monitoring
- Substantial use of agroclimatology data, especially anomaly analysis
- Information on nutrition levels
- Information on conflicts
FEWS Net identifies areas of highest concern and other areas of concern and uses the IPC Acute Food Insecurity Phase to do so. Areas of highest concern and other areas of concern are categorized by country/region, reason for concern, and observations connected to the assessment. Along with key messages of the situation, each country/area-level assessment shows a current and projected map with areas highlighted by IPC phase.
IFPRI's Excessive Food Price Variability Early Warning System
IFPRI's Excessive Food Price Variability Early Warning System 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.
Data are updated daily and currently cover five major commodities traded on the Chicago Board of Trade and Bloomberg.
Global Report on Food Crises
The Global Report on Food Crises, an annual report published by the Food Security Information Networ and the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), 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.
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.
IFPRI's Control Panel for Risk Monitoring
The control panel for real-time monitoring of risk factors is an innovative tool that brings together information on various drivers of food crises, including conflict and climate-related shocks.