Friday, Jul 01, 2022

Global Hunger Index 2021: What It Means For India?

India has slipped to 101st position from last year’s 94th position

Representational Image istockphoto

India has slipped several notches to be placed in the 101st position among 135 nations in a global hunger index report released on Thursday, and is now behind Pakistan (92), Bangladesh (76) and Nepal (76). India was in the 94th position last year. 

Prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, the report terms India’s hunger level as “alarming” as India’s GHI score has been reducing over the years. In 2000, India’s GHI score was 38.8 while it came down to 27.5 in 2021. 

The GHI is a tool designed to measure and track global, regional and national hunger levels. The scores are calculated each year to find out progress and setbacks in combating hunger to point out countries here additional efforts are required to eliminate hunger the most. Below are the three points you need to know about GHI and what it means for India: 

What’s India progress?
Since 2000, India has made substantial progress, but there are still areas of concern, particularly regarding child nutrition. India’s GHI score has decreased from a 2000 GHI score of 38.8 points—considered alarming—to a 2021 GHI score of 27.5—considered serious. The proportion of undernourished in the population and the under-five child mortality rate are now at relatively low levels. While child stunting has seen a significant decrease—from 54.2 per cent in 1998–1999 to 34.7 per cent in 2016–2018—it is still considered very high. At 17.3 per cent, India still has the highest child wasting rate of all countries covered in the GHI. This rate is slightly higher than it was in 1998–1999, when it was 17.1 per cent. 

Which data were used
For India’s 2021 GHI score, data on the four component indicators came from the following sources:

1. Undernourishment values are from the 2021 edition of the FAO Food Security Indicators (published July 12, 2021, accessed July 12, 2021).

2. Child stunting and wasting data are from the 2021 edition of UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates (published April 2021, accessed May 24, 2021), including data from India’s Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016–2018 (CNNS) National Report (published 2019).

3. Under-five mortality rates are taken from the 2020 edition of the UN IGME (Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation) Child Mortality Estimates (published September 9, 2020, accessed May 24, 2021). Given the wide range in quality and availability of child mortality data at the country level, it is necessary and prudent for the GHI to use the data from UN IGME for all countries to ensure the values have been properly vetted. 

Reason for choice of GHI indicators? 

The problem of hunger is complex. The GHI includes four indicators to reflect the multidimensional nature of hunger. Together, they reflect deficiencies in calories as well as in micronutrients. 

By combining the proportion of undernourished in the population (1/3 of the GHI score) with the indicators relating to children under age five (2/3 of the GHI score), the GHI ensures that both the food supply situation of the population as a whole and the effects of inadequate nutrition are captured. Inequitable resource allocations between households and within households are also taken into consideration to reflect the effect of the latter on the physical well-being of children. Sufficient food availability at the household level does not guarantee that all household members benefit from it in equal measure.