Tuesday, October 16, 2012

State of Hunger in South Asia, 2005-2010 (Global Hunger Index 2012)

According to the Global Hunger Index 2012, though hunger in Nepal is decreasing, it is still at "alarming" level. Nepal's hunger index declined from 26.9 in 1990 to 20.3 in 2012.  In hunger ranking, Nepal ranks 60 out of 79 countries. In 2011, Nepal's ranking was 54. Note that while GHI 2012 used data from 2005 to 2010, GHI 2011 used data from 2004 to 2009. 

In South Asia, GHI 2012 ranks Sri Lanka 37, Pakistan 57, Nepal 60, India 65 and Bangladesh 68. It means that hunger in Sri Lanka is the lowest in South Asia. Hunger level in Sri Lanka and Pakistan is "serious". In all other countries, it is "alarming".

Hunger in South Asia (Increase in GHI score means hunger situation is worsening)
Country 1990 1996 2001 2012 RANK
(with data from 1988-92) (with data from 1994-98) (with data from 1999-2003) (with data from 2005-2010)
Bangladesh 37.9 36.1 27.8 24 68
India 30.3 22.6 24.2 22.9 65
Nepal 26.9 24.4 23 20.3 60
Pakistan 25.5 21.8 21.7 19.7 57
Sri Lanka 20.8 18.4 15.2 14.4 37

The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale in which zero is the best score (no hunger) and 100 the worst. This year's GHI reflects data from 2005 to 2010. Hunger level is categorized as follows:
  • <= 4.9 is low
  • 5.0-9.9 is moderate
  • 10.0-19.9 is serious
  • 20.0-29.9 is alarming
  • >= 30.0 is extremely alarming
In order to identify hunger levels and hot spots, the GHI scores countries based on three equally weighted indicators: the proportion of people who are undernourished, the proportion of children under five who are underweight, and the child mortality rate.

Compared with the 1990 score, the 2012 GHI score was 16 percent lower in Sub-Saharan Africa, 26 percent lower in South Asia, and 35 percent lower in the Near East and North Africa. The report notes:

South Asia reduced its GHI score by more than 6 points between 1990 and 1996—mainly through a large 15-percentage-point decline in underweight in children—but this rapid progress could not be maintained. Stagnation followed, and the region has lowered its GHI score by only about 2 points since 2001 despite strong economic growth. The proportion of undernourished people did not decline between 1995–97 and 2006–08 and even showed a transient increase of about 2 percentage points around 2000–02. Social inequality and the low nutritional, educational, and social status of women are major causes of child undernutrition in this region and have impeded improvements in the GHI score.

The rising water, land and energy scarcity will impact food security in the coming decades (especially food price volatility and food price spikes). On this regard, the GHI provides the following recommendations to effectively deal with its impact on food security:
  • Responsible governance of natural resources: getting the policy frameworks right (secure land and water rights; phase out subsidies; create a macroeconomic enabling environment)
  • Scaling up technical approaches: addressing the nexus (invest in agricultural production technologies that support increased land, water, and energy efficiency; foster approaches resulting in more efficient land, water, and energy use along the value chain; prevent resource depletion by monitoring and evaluating strategies in water, land, energy, and agricultural systems)
  • Addressing the drivers of natural resource scarcity: managing the risks (address demographic change, women’s access to education, and reproductive health; raise incomes, lower inequality, and promote sustainable lifestyles; mitigate and adapt to climate change through agriculture 

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