David Backer, Trey Billing, "Validating Famine Early Warning Systems Network projections of food security in Africa, 2009–2020," Global Food Security, Volume 29, 2021.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) operates to mitigate harms associated with food insecurity. Many stakeholders depend on this resource to guide monitoring, planning, interventions, and resource allocations. These activities' effectiveness hinges on the credibility of FEWS NET projections. Published statistical evaluations are rare and narrow in geographic scope. Our extended analysis validates projections for 25 African countries from 2009-2020. Accuracy is 84 percent overall, but drops sharply with ascending food insecurity, biasing toward over-projection. Variation in humanitarian responses, climate, and conflict appear connected to the patterns. The study illuminates FEWS NET's performance in anticipating food insecurity amid fragile conditions and motivates recommendations for improvements through ongoing validation, deeper scrutiny of factors affecting reliability, increased transparency, and informed usage.