Wednesday, February 27, 2008

India ranks 93 out of 119 countries on Global Hunger Index

India ranks low once again on the Global Hunger Index, confirming what development experts have been saying all along -- that the country?s economic boom is not being matched by corresponding levels of progress in the human development indices

India ranks an abysmal 93 out of 119 developing countries on the latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2006, on which countries in sub-Saharan Africa fare the worst. However, South Asia is also reported as a hotspot for under-nutrition.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that developed the GHI, in South Asia, only Bangladesh has worse levels of hunger than India, based on three parameters to measure a country?s food supply situation -- child malnutrition, child mortality and estimates of the proportion of people who are calorie-deficient.

The index, which covers only developing countries and countries in transition, ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best and 100 being the worst. The worst country, Burundi, has an index value of 42.70, and Belarus, the top-ranker, has an index value of 1.59. Data for the GHI is from the year 2003.

The index showed ?extremely alarming? hunger in Burundi, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Angola, Liberia, Zambia, Comoros, Cambodia and Tajikistan.

While India?s current score of 25.73 is an improvement on its performance of 41.23 since the first index was published in 1981, it is cited as one of the countries that have been unable to use their available economic resources effectively in reducing under-nutrition. This reinforces what development experts have been saying about India?s economic boom not being matched by corresponding levels of progress in the human development indices.

India still keeps dubious company with many sub-Saharan countries on the GHI. Its score is worse than Sudan, at 27.20, but better than Burkina Faso (25.80).

Other countries with which India has formed strategic alliances fare substantially better, with index values less than 10. Brazil has a GHI of 5.43, Russia 2.93 and China 8.23. Other countries with comparable levels of development also fare far better than India on the food security front -- South Africa has an index value of 7.66 and Mexico 5.10.

The IFPRI report?s observations on India tie in with what the United Nations World Food Programme has said -- that nearly 50% of the world?s hungry live in India. Around 35% of India?s population -- 350 million -- are considered food-insecure, consuming less than 80% of the minimum energy requirement.

The Washington think-tank released the Global Hunger Index, based on an innovative and enhanced approach for measuring hunger and under-nutrition, in 97 developing countries and 22 countries in transition, to coincide with World Food Day on October 16.

?This index provides a particularly comprehensive measure of global hunger because it ranks countries on three leading indicators and combines them into one,? explained Doris Wiesmann, the IFPRI researcher who developed the index. ?Alone, each indicator has limitations, but put together they give us a much more complete picture of the state of hunger around the world.?

?By combining these indicators, the index considers the food supply situation of the total population and takes into account the special vulnerability of children to nutritional deprivation. It also reflects the most tragic consequence of under-nutrition, which is death,? said Marie Ruel, director of the IFPRI?s food consumption and nutrition division.

The Global Hunger Index has been calculated for 1981, 1992, 1997 and 2003. It does not include highly industrialised countries or some developing countries where data is not available, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

Significantly, of the 12 countries with the highest levels of hunger, nine were affected by civil war or violent conflict, and the 10 countries that scored the worst are all in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source:, October 16, 2006, October 16, 2006, October 16, 2006