Food

India’s hunger crisis worse than Bangladesh, Nepal

Around 15 per cent of India’s population is undernourished and 38.7 per cent of children suffer from stunted growth

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 13 October 2016 | 05:42:33 AM
Globally, alarming level of hunger is experienced in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. Credit: FMSC/ Flicker
Globally, alarming level of hunger is experienced in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. Credit: FMSC/ Flicker Globally, alarming level of hunger is experienced in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. Credit: FMSC/ Flicker

Reductions in the prevalence of undernourishment, child stunting, child mortality and child wasting (low weight for height) have led to the improvement in Global Hunger Index (GHI), but looking at the pace at which the progress is being made, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of 2030 is unlikely to be met. This was observed by a report prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The SDG 2 aims at “ending hunger and ensuring access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round” by 2030.

According to the GHI prepared by the IFPRI, between 2000 and 2016, 22 countries made significant progress by reducing their GHI scores by 50 per cent or more. Countries such as Rwanda, Cambodia and Myanmar have seen the largest percentage reductions in hunger since 2000.  This is despite the fact that these countries experienced civil war and political instability in recent decades.

Globally, alarming level of hunger is experienced in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. However, the GHI scores for East and Southeast Asia, as well as North Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean represent low or moderate levels of hunger.

 Globally, alarming level of hunger is experienced in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. Credit: IFPRI

 

Africa

  • Out of the seven countries that suffer from alarming levels of hunger, the majority of those are in Africa south of the Sahara: Chad, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Zambia.
  • African countries such as Central African Republic and Chad have the highest GHI scores in 2016 report. They also witnessed relatively low percentage reductions in hunger since 2000.
  • In the Central African Republic, violence and mass displacement resulting from a four-year-long civil war have taken a heavy toll on food production
  • Chad’s food security deteriorated due to extreme weather events and a recent influx of refugees.

Asia

  • Both Nepal and Sri Lanka have less than 8 per cent of its total population undernourished as against 15.2 per cent in India.
  • While Bangladesh and Nepal have 3.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent mortality rates among under five children, in case of Sri Lanka, it is only 1 per cent.
  • Prevalence of stunting in children under five years is high in almost all south Asian countries. Pakistan has the highest percentage (45 per cent) of its children suffering from stunted growth, while Sri Lanka has the lowest. 

Country

Proportion of undernourished in population (%)

Prevalence of stunting in children under five years (%)

Under five mortality rate (%)

Score

Nepal

7.8

37.4

3.6

21.9

Iraq

22.8

22.6

3.2

22

Swaziland

26.8

25.5

6.1

24.4

Nigeria

7

32.9

10.9

25.5

Sri Lanka

22

14.7

1

25.5

Uganda

25.5

34.2

5.5

26.4

Malawi

20.7

42.4

6.4

26.9

Bangladesh

16.4

36.4

3.8

27.1

Rwanda

31.6

37.9

4.2

27.4

India

15.2

38.7

4.8

28.5

India makes a slow progress

  • India ranked 97th out of 118 countries. It is well behind its neighbours: Bangladesh (90), Nepal (72) and Sri Lanka (84). 
  • The country has been rated with ‘serious’ hunger levels in the 2016 Index.
  • In 2016, India scored 28.5 on the GHI index, which is an improvement from 36 in 2008. In the last 16 years (2000-16), the country has reduced its GHI score by 25 per cent.
  • At the end of 2016, around 15 per cent of India’s population was undernourished, which is a drop from 17 per cent at the end of 2009. But on the other hand, 38.7 per cent of children suffer from stunted growth.
  • Even if hunger declines at the same rate as it has since 1992, India will still have ‘moderate’ to ‘alarming’ hunger scores in 2030.

While there has been improvement in certain pockets of the world, regional conflict, poor governance and climate-related impacts on agriculture have ensured that the hunger persists.

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IEP Resources:

2016 Global hunger index: getting to zero hunger

Global Nutrition Report 2016: from promise to impact- ending malnutrition by 2030

Long-term drivers of food and nutrition security

The India state hunger index: comparisons of hunger across states

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