India slips 7 spots to rank 101 among 116 countries on Global Hunger Index

Globally, India worst in ‘wasting’ or ‘weight for height’ among children, says latest Global Hunger Index

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Friday 15 October 2021
Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE

India has slipped seven places to rank 101 among 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index. It ranked fourth among South Asian countries, according to the Index that was released October 14, 2021.

Only 15 other countries ranked below India on the Index. These include:

  • Afghanistan (103)
  • Nigeria (103)
  • Congo (105)
  • Mozambique (106)
  • Sierra Leone (106)
  • Liberia (110)
  • Madagascar (111)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (112)
  • Chad (113)
  • Central African Republic (114)
  • Somalia (116)

Bangladesh (76), Nepal (76) and Pakistan (92) have fared much better than India on the index.

In 2020, India ranked at 94 among 107 countries on the Index that is released by Concern Worldwide, an Irish aid agency and Welt Hunger Hilfe, a German organisation.

In fact, India’s score on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in the recent two decades has declined by 10 points. It slipped to 28.8 in 2021, from 38.8 in 2000.

The level of hunger in India was ‘serious’ according to the report. Some 36 other countries besides India were categorised thus. The level of hunger in nine countries was ‘alarming’. It was ‘extremely alarming’ in Somalia, which ranked 116 on the Index this year.

The data used to come up with the Index this time was from 2016–2020.

‘Wasting India’

Four indicators were considered for calculating the global score out of 100, in order to decide the ranking:

  • Undernourishment
  • Child wasting (percentage of children below five years of age who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition)
  • Child stunting (percentage of children below five years of age who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition)
  • Child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five)

Globally, India ranked among the worst in ‘child wasting’ or ‘weight for height’. Its performance was worse than Djibouti and Somalia.  Some 17.3 per cent of children under five years of age in India were stunted during 2016-2020, the report estimated. This was an increase of 15.1 per cent from 2010-2014.

India had shown promise over the past decade in reducing maternal and child mortality. But, much more needed to be done, the report said. The response to the challenge of hidden hunger would require a sustained, long-term effort, it added.

However, India had progressed on other indicators including undernutrition, child stunting and child mortality, according to data in the report.

Climate change, a threat

Conflict, climate change and the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have exacerbated the food security situation across the globe including India, according to the Global Hunger Index 2021.

At this rate, 47 countries including India, will be unable to achieve a low level of hunger by 2030. In fact, India’s rank dropped by two places in the Global Sustainable Development Report 2021, primarily because of major challenges like ending hunger and achieving food security.

This was highlighted by Down To Earth’s State of India’s Environment Report In Figures, 2021 (SoE In Figures, 2021) India must assert the right to food for all and make zero hunger a reality, the report said.

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