Hunger Overview

Hunger Overview

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According to the Global Hunger Index 2014: The Challenge of Hidden Hunger, prepared by International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide (please click here to download):

• The 2014 GHI examines levels of hunger in 120 developing countries and countries in transition and scores them based on three equally weight ed indicators: the proportion of people who are undernourished, the proportion of children under five who are underweight, and the mortality rate of children under five. An increase in a country’s GHI score indicates that the hunger situation is worsening, while a decrease in the score indicates improvement in the country’s hunger situation.

• In 2005-2006, 43.5 percent of children below 5 years of age were underweight. However, provisional data from the Ministry of Women and Child Development (India) and UNICEF (India) shows that 30.7 percent of children under five were underweight in 2013-2014. This means that the prevalence of underweight in children fell by almost 13 percentage points between 2005–2006 and 2013–2014. India no longer ranks second-to-last in the world on underweight in children. Instead, it has moved into the 120th spot among 128 countries.

• Progress in dealing with underweight helped India’s 2014 GHI score fall to 17.8. Its GHI score declined by 26 percent, or 6.4 points, between the 2005 GHI and the 2014 GHI, outpacing the drop seen in other countries in South Asia in the same time period.

• India now ranks 55th out of 76 countries, before Bangladesh and Pakistan, but still trails behind neighboring Nepal (rank 44) and Sri Lanka (rank 39). While no longer in the “alarming” category, India’s hunger status is still classified as “serious”, according to the GHI.

• Many factors may have contributed to the improvement in hunger situation. Since the last undernutrition data became available, the Indian government rolled out and expanded several programs that targeted a mix of direct and indirect causes of undernutrition. Nutrition-specific interventions that were scaled up after 2006 include (1) a final push to expand the Integrated Child Development Services program that aims to improve the health, nutrition, and development of children in India and establish 1.4 million centers; and (2) the launch of the National Rural Health Mission, a community-based outreach and facility-based health initiative to deliver essential health services to rural India (Avula et al. 2013).

• Indirect factors that reduced hunger are the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, a rural jobs program, and reforms in several states to the Public Distribution System, which distributes food to the poor.

• Efforts have also been made to create an enabling environment for nutrition. Within the context of India’s decentralized governance system, state governments have taken ownership of nutrition and tried to strengthen delivery of targeted nutrition efforts. The state of Maharashtra was the first of several to bring high-level political and bureaucratic leadership to nutrition through a Nutrition Mission, a program with greater flexibility and freedom than usual (Gillespie et al. 2013). Another key element in the enabling environment for food security and nutrition in India was the creation of a body called the Commissioners to the Supreme Court on the Right to Food Act, a group that supports independent monitoring of the delivery of food-based programs like the Integrated Child Development Services program and the Public Distribution System.

• A staggering 2 billion people get so little essential vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat that they remain undernourished globally.

• While great strides have been made to feed the world, 805 million people worldwide are still chronically undernourished because they don’t get enough to eat.

• Since 1990, hunger in the developing world has fallen by 39 percent, and 26 countries have reduced their scores by 50 percent or more.

Rural Expert

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