Thursday, October 17, 2013

State of hunger in Nepal is improving (Global Hunger Index 2013)

IFPRI has published the latest update on Global Hunger Index (GHI), which shows that hunger in Nepal has consistently declined since 1990. The latest GHI score of 17.3 corresponds to 2008-2012 period. It is the second lowest score in South Asia. Sri Lanka has a GHI score of 15.6. In 2005 (data covering 2003-2007), Nepal had a score of 22.3.

In GHI 2012 (data covering 2005-2010), Nepal had a score 20.3, ranking 60 out of 79 countries. In GHI 2013, Nepal ranked 49 out of 78 countries.

2013 Global Hunger Index Rank
Higher GHI score indicates more hunger 1990 1995 2000 2005 2013 2012 2013
(with data from 1988-92) (with data from 1993-97) (with data from 1998-2002) (with data from 2003-2007) (with data from 2008-12)
Bangladesh 36.7 35.1 24.0 20.2 19.4 68 58
India 32.6 27.1 24.8 24.0 21.3 65 63
Nepal 28.0 27.3 25.3 22.3 17.3 60 49
Pakistan 25.9 22.8 21.6 21.2 19.3 57 57
Sri Lanka 22.3 20.7 17.8 16.9 15.6 37 43

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 over 2008-2012 period. Hunger level is categorized as follows:

  • <= 4.9 is low
  • 5.0-9.9 is moderate
  • 10.0-19.9 is serious [Nepal falls in this category]
  • 20.0-29.9 is alarming
  • >= 30.0 is extremely alarming

In order to identify hunger levels and hotspots, 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.

In Nepal, the largest contribution to the reduction in hunger score between 2005 and 2013 came from the progress in reducing the prevalence of underweight in children under five years (down from 38.8% in 2005 to 29.1% in 2013).

Excerpts from the report:

Across regions and countries, GHI scores vary considerably. South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara are home to the highest GHI scores. South Asia significantly lowered its GHI score between 1990 and 1995, mainly thanks to a large decline in underweight in children, but was not able to maintain its fast progress. Social inequality and the low nutritional, educational, and social status of women continue to contribute to the high prevalence of underweight in children under five.

[…]It is not surprising that many of the countries with “alarming” or “extremely alarming” scores have not been among the most stable. Higher GHI scores tend to be typical of countries that experience social or political unrest or are perennially exposed to shocks such as floods and droughts. Natural and manmade disasters can directly affect the food and nutrition security of people and communities that are particularly vulnerable or lacking resilience. By extension, a critical part of building resilience is ensuring food and nutrition security; and conversely, efforts to build food and nutrition security must be designed with a resilience lens. Poor people have long been vulnerable to “hunger seasons,” droughts, and other natural and manmade disasters. In recent years, this vulnerability has been exacerbated by food and financial crises and large-scale humanitarian crises such as the recurring droughts in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. These short-term shocks have long-term consequences.

Policymakers and practitioners across the development and relief communities now recognize the need to build the resilience of vulnerable populations. More resilience will help them climb out of poverty, remain out of poverty, or avoid slipping into it in the first place. Conceptually, resilience has been expanded to include the capacity not only to absorb mild shocks, but also to learn from and adapt to moderate shocks and to transform economic, social, and ecological structures in response to severe shocks.