Global Hunger Index 2020
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In the recent Global Hunger Index 2020, India has been ranked 94 out of 107 countries and is put in the serious hunger category. In 2019, India’s rank in the Hunger Index was 102 out of 117 nations.
As the current ranking categorizes India under a serious category, experts have been blaming poor implementation processes, abrupt approach in tackling malnutrition, lack of effective monitoring, and poor performance of the large states that are behind the low ranking.
According to the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition, 17 nations which includes Belarus, China, Turkey, Cuba, Ukraine, and Kuwait have shared the top rank with the scores of less than 5.
Four indicators to calculate the GHI score:
- Child wasting- the share of children under the age of 5 who have low weight for their height which reflects undernutrition.
- Child Stunting- children under the age of 5 who have low height for their age which reflects chronic undernutrition.
- Child mortality- the children mortality rate under the age of 5.
Global Hunger Index 2020: Highlights
- The neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar are in the serious category too but have been ranked higher than India in Global Hunger Index 2020. While Bangladesh has been ranked 75, Myanmar is at 78th position and Pakistan is at 88th.
- As per the report, Nepal at the 73rd position and Sri Lanka at 64th position are under the moderate category.
- The report also shows that 14% of India’s population is undernourished and the country has recorded a 37.4% stunting rate among children under the age of 5 and a wasting rate of 17.3%. The under 5 mortality rate stood at 3.7%.
What does wasting and stunting mean? How do they affect the Hunger Index data?
- Wasting in the hunger index is used for children who have low weight for their height which reflects acute malnutrition. While Stunting is for children under the age of 5 who have low height for their age which reflects chronic undernutrition.
- Data from the years 1991 through the year 2014 for India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan have shown that stunting has been observed among those children from households who have been facing multiple forms of deprivation. It includes low levels of maternal education, poor dietary diversity, and household poverty.
- The report further states that child mortality caused by low birth weight and prematurity increased particularly in rural areas and poor states. Low birthweight and prevention of prematurity have been identified as a key factor with the potential to reduce under-5 mortality in India, with the help of actions such as education, better antenatal care, and nutrition as well as reductions in oral tobacco use and anemia.
Need to improve the performance of nutrition in larger states: Experts Opinion
- A Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, Purnima Menon noted that the performance of the large states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar need to be improved in order to see an overall change in India’s ranking.
- The national average has been affected a lot by the states such as Bihar and UP as these are the ones that actually have a combination of the high level of malnutrition. These states contribute a lot to the population of India.
- The Head of Nutrition Research and Additional Professor at Public Health Foundation of India, Shweta Khandelwal while talking about the poor performance on the GHI stated that India has one of the most impressive portfolios of policies and programmes on nutrition in the books but the ground realities are quite different.
- Research has shown that our to-down approach, lack of effective monitoring, and poor implementation process often result in poor nutrition indices.
Five measures to prevent hunger amid pandemic:
- The Head of Nutrition Research and Additional Professor at Public Health Foundation of India, Shweta Khandelwal also suggests five measures to prevent hunger because of the pandemic:
- Safeguard and promote access to safe, nutritious, and affordable diets.
- Investment in improving maternal and child nutrition through pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood.
- Re-activate and scale-up services for early treatment and detection of child wasting.
- To maintain the provision of safe and nutritious school meals for vulnerable children.
- Expand social protection to safeguard access to essential service and nutritious diets.