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GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX (GHI)

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Indices & Reports, Social Issues

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India is ranked 102 of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019, behind its neighbours Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

What is Global Hunger Index?

  • It is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.
  • GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger.
  • It is prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe since 2000.
  • It is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and call attention to those areas of the world where hunger levels are highest and where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest.
  • The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst.
  • Values less than 10 reflect low hunger, values from 20 to 34.9 indicate serious hunger; values from 35 to 49.9 are alarming; and values of 50 or more are extremely alarming.

How does GHI measure hunger?

GHI scores are calculated using a three-step process that draws on available data from various sources to capture the multidimensional nature of hunger.

 

FIRST STEP

For each country, values are determined for four indicators:

  • UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient);
  • CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
  • CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and
  • CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

SECOND STEP

Each of the four component indicators is given a standardized score on a 100-point scale based on the highest observed level for the indicator on a global scale in recent decades.

THIRD STEP

Standardized scores are aggregated to calculate the GHI score for each country, with each of the three dimensions (inadequate food supply; child mortality; and child undernutrition, which is composed equally of child stunting and child wasting) given equal weight.

Global Rankings

  • Seventeen countries, including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores of less than five.
  • Among the BRICS grouping, India is ranked the worst, with China ranked at 25 and a score of 6.5.
  • Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan (in that order) are all ranked ahead of India.
  • Some of the other countries ahead of India are Saudi Arabia (rank 34), Venezuela (rank 65), Lesotho (rank 79), Burkina Faso (rank 88), and North Korea (rank 92).
  • Most of the countries below India on the GHI — Afghanistan, Haiti or Yemen etc — are either poorly governed or war-torn or ravaged by natural calamities.

Performance of India

  • India is ranked 102 of 117 countries and the report termed the level of hunger in India “serious”.
  • In 2018, it was ranked 103 out of 119 countries. In 2000, the country was ranked 83 out of 113 countries.
  • GHI score of India also decelerated — from 38.9 in 2005 to 32 in 2010 and then from 32 to 30.3 between 2010 and 2019.
  • The share of wasting among children in India rose from 16.5% in 2008-2012 to 20.8% in 2014-2018.
  • However, India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.
  • The report also mentions the central government’s Swachh Bharat programme noting that open defecation is still being practised.
  • This situation jeopardises the population’s health and consequently, children’s growth and development as their ability to absorb nutrients is compromised.

Why India is ranked low on GHI?

  • With an overall GHI score of 30.3, India finds itself sandwiched between Niger (score 30.2, rank 101) and Sierra Leone (score 30.4, rank 103).
  • In 2000, India’s score was 38.8 and its hunger level was in the “alarming” category.
  • Since then, India has steadily improved on most counts to reduce its score and is now slotted in the “serious” category.
  • But the pace of India’s improvement has been relatively slow.
  • Niger and Sierra Leone had scores of 52.1 and 53.6 in 2000 and was placed in the “extremely alarming” category of hunger.
  • The present GHI scores of these countries will clearly illustrate the “slow pace” of India’s progress.
  • So, even though India has improved its score, many other countries have done more.
  • This explains why despite achieving relatively fast economic growth since 2000, India has not been able to make commensurate strides in reducing hunger.

Steps suggested in the Report

  • GHI recommends various steps the countries could take to tackle this serious problem.
  • Prioritizing resilience among the most vulnerable groups, better response to disasters, addressing inequalities, action to mitigate climate change are among measures suggested in the report.

Way Forward

  • In India, to combat the malnutrition levels both immediate and long term interventions are needed.
  • Around 85 to 90% of wasting can be managed at the community level.
  • The nutritional rehabilitation centre, which are coming up across the country can help in taking care of the institutional needs of the children who are already malnourished.
  • Mothers need to be educated about child feeding and care practices by proactive front-line workers (ASHAs, ANMs and anganwadi workers).
  • Access to clean drinking water and sanitation, immunization and deworming of children has to be ensured.
  • For immediate intervention, nutritional formulations need to be made available at community level.
  • The government can utilise the existing network of public distribution system to distribute nutrient rich traditional cereals.
  • It can have the self help groups engaged in preparation and distribution of locally packaged, adequately portioned, nutritional formulations using locally available biodiverse indigenous foods to be fed to the moderately malnourished and severely malnourished children without medical complications.
  • Having a clear cut, state specific, contextual community based solution to address acute and chronic malnutrition is the need of the hour.
[Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, globalhungerindex.org]

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