In early 2017, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, the first time famine had been officially declared in the world since 2011, when famine killed more than 260,000 people. In fact, a number of countries faced potentially catastrophic famines in 2017, including South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya. Despite numerous appeals for assistance at the UN, more than 20 million people remained at risk.
Many of the Humanitarian Coalition members launched independent fundraising efforts between February and March. By mid-May, when the situation continued to deteriorate, the members mobilized to launch a joint campaign.