The Global Hunger Index 2019 was released on October 15, which ranked a total of 117 countries around the globe. The report marked 43 countries out of the 117 as “serious” in regard to the level of hunger.
Four countries – Madagascar, Chad, Zambia, and Yemen – had hunger levels, which were marked as “alarming” and one country – Central African Republic – suffers from an “extremely alarming” level of hunger. One thing to be noted is that high-income countries are not included in the index. These countries usually have a variable, non-negligible level of food insecurity.
Global Hunger Index India ranking was 102 out of 117, falling behind neighboring countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The subcontinent was ranked the lowest among South Asian countries and was also below other BRICS countries.
Pakistan’s global hunger index ranking used to be the only one in South Asia below India’s, which is not the case anymore. Global hunger index Pakistan rank for 2019 is 94, 8 places above India. The global hunger index takes into account the data from 2014 to 2018 and measures the proportion of children who are undernourished, those whose weight is insufficient for their height and infant mortality rate.
The report on the index said that India’s child wasting rate is 20.8 percent, which is the highest of all countries in the index. Besides that, the child stunting rate in the country is at 37.9 percent, which is also considered “very high.”
According to the report, only about 9.6 percent of the 6-23 months old children in India receive a minimum acceptable diet. This figure was even lower at 6.4 percent when the Union health ministry survey reported the same.
Even countries like conflict-ridden Yemen and Djibouti, which is facing climate issues, have performed better on the index than India in some indicators.
Other countries that were part of the “serious” hunger category along with India include Sri Lanka (ranked 66), Myanmar (ranked 69), Pakistan (ranked 94), and Nepal (ranked 73). However, they have been able to feed their citizens to a better degree as compared to India.
Bangladesh was praised in the report for the improvements it made in this regard. The GHI report said that it was possible because of strong economic growth in the country and more attention to sectors like education, health, and sanitation.
Another neighboring country Nepal, performed better in the index this year. The report showed that the country had the greatest proportional change in its global hunger index ranking since 2000. The success was attributed to the increase in maternal education, the use of health and nutrition programs, and better sanitation in the country.
Nepal also improved its child stunting rate from 56.6 percent to 40.1 percent from the year 2001 to 2011.
The index has a 100 point scale on which it marks countries: 0 meaning the best score, and 100 meaning the worst score. If a country is marked below 10 on the scale, it means it suffers from “low hunger.” A score between 20 and 34.9 reflects “serious hunger,” a figure between 35 to 49.9 shows “alarming hunger.” Lastly, a score of more than 50 on the scale means the country suffers from “extremely alarming” hunger levels.
The global hunger index India score was 30.3, which shows that the country faces a serious hunger level. However, the report claimed that India performed better in certain indicators, including under-5 year mortality rate and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.
Despite PM Narendra Modi’s claim on October 2 that villages in India were free from open defecation, the GHI index said in its report that open defecation is still a problem in the country. It also said that this problem further translates to issues with public health and children’s ability to take in nutrients.
There was also a mention of climate change in the report. It said that climate change is causing greater difficulty in feeding people in regions that are most vulnerable to the phenomenon. It is causing a degradation of the quality of food and reducing the nutritional value of cultivated food, the report said.
In a conclusive statement, the global hunger index 2019 report explained that even though the world has improved its situation in terms of hunger levels, it still needs a long time to reach the “zero hunger” target.