With sophisticated early warning systems, we can see the first signs of oncoming famine almost a year ahead of time. However, these early warnings are only helpful if they lead to early action. For instance, a joint report by Save the Children and Oxfam regarding the famine in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia pointed out that early action could have avoided as many as 100,000 deaths, more than half of which were among children under five.
Not only do early interventions save more lives, they are also more cost-effective. One study in northern Kenya found that it was three times more expensive to restock a core herd than to keep animals alive through supplementary feeding. And in the Afar region of Ethiopia, restocking sheep and goats costs at least six times more than supplementary feeding. Restocking cattle costs 14 times more.