GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX AND INDIA

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by country and region.

Calculated each year by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the GHI highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction and provides insights into the drivers of hunger. This year, The GHI was calculated with keeping in sight, hidden hunger. By raising awareness and understanding of regional and country differences in hunger, the GHI aims to trigger actions to reduce hunger.

To reflect the multidimensional nature of hunger, the GHI combines the following four component indicators into one index:

1. Undernourishment: the proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population (reflecting the share of the population whose caloric intake is insufficient;

2. Child wasting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from wasting (that is, low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);

3. Child stunting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from stunting (that is, low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and

4. Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

This year, GHI scores were calculated using a new and improved formula. The revision replaces child underweight, previously the only indicator of child undernutrition, with two indicators of child undernutrition—child wasting and child stunting. The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale. Zero is the best score (no hunger), and 100 is the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in practice.

A sharp reduction in the percentage of underweight children has helped India improve its hunger record, shows the Global Hunger Index (GHI). India improved its global hunger index score to 29 in 2015 from 38.5 in 2005. A lower number means fewer people are going hungry. India, in 2014, ranked 55 among 76 emerging economies, but is still trailing behind countries like Thailand, China, Ghana, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Now, the world’s second-most-populous-country came 80th out of 104 countries ranked from the least to the most hungry, ahead of Pakistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria but behind Bangladesh, North Korea and Myanmar.

India’s improved ranking is due to its progress in dealing with underweight children, the report said. Between 2005 and 2014, the prevalence of underweight children under the age of five fell from 43.5% to 30.7%. This helped improve the severity of the hunger situation in India from alarming to serious.

The country’s latest child undernourishment number (30.7%) is a provisional estimate based on a survey by the ministry of women and child development with support from UNICEF in 2013-14. The survey results are yet to be published by the government. However, India remains home to the largest number of chronically malnourished and stunted children under five.

India ranked 63 in 2013 and 65 in 2012 on the hunger index. In the first index in 2006, India ranked 96 among 119 countries—lower than the hunger hotspot of Sudan, which was ranked 95 (Sudan, including the newly independent South Sudan, ranks 72 in GHI 2014).

India was able to improve its GHI score as the government rolled out and expanded several programmes after 2006 that targeted a mix of direct and indirect causes of malnutrition, the report said. The main reasons were “a final push to expand the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme that aims to improve the health, nutrition and development of children in India and establish 1.4 million centres, and the launch of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), a community based outreach and facility-based health initiative to deliver essential health services to rural India.

The rural jobs programme and reforms in the public distribution system (PDS) are other likely indirect factors that helped improve India’s hunger record, the report noted. Another key element was the creation of a body called the commissioners to the Supreme Court on the Right to Food case, a group that supports independent monitoring of the delivery of food based programmes like the ICDS and PDS.

 

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