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India ranked as ‘Serious’ in 2016 Global Hunger Index

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The country scores 97th out of 118, behind Iran, Iraq, Nigeria and Bangladesh

Despite improvements in hunger and nutrition, India was rated as a country with ‘serious’ hunger levels in the 2016 Global Hunger Index, released today. If hunger declines at the same rate as the report finds it has since 1992, more than 45 countries — including India, Pakistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Afghanistan —will still have ‘moderate’ to ‘alarming’ hunger scores in the year 2030, far short of the United Nations goal to end hunger by that year.

“Simply put, countries must accelerate the pace at which they are reducing hunger or we will fail to achieve the second sustainable development goal,” said Shenggen Fan, Director General, The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). “Ending global hunger is certainly possible, but it’s up to all of us that we set the priorities right to ensure that governments, the private sector and civil society devote the time and resources necessary to meet this important goal.”

India was rated as ‘alarming’ in 2013 and has experienced an improvement in its GHI score over recent years. Since 2000, the country has reduced its GHI score by a quarter. Recent data show that almost two in five Indian children under five years of age are stunted, or too short for their age. In the early 1990s, over 60 per cent of Indian children were stunted. Today, India has the fifth highest GHI score in Asia— better than only Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, Pakistan, and North Korea.

“India is slated to become the world’s most populous nation in just six years, and it’s crucial that we meet this milestone with a record of ensuring that the expected 1.4 billion Indians have enough nutritious food to lead healthy and successful lives,” said Pramod Joshi, Director for South Asia, IFPRI. “India is making tremendous progress—but we have significant challenges ahead.”

Globally, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia had the highest levels of hunger in the report. The GHI score for the developing world as a whole is 21.3, which is in the low end of the ‘serious’ category. Regionally, Africa South of the Sahara has the highest hunger level, followed closely by South Asia. Rounding out the top 10 countries with the highest levels of hunger after Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia are: Haiti, Madagascar, Yemen, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Niger.

Around half of the populations of Haiti, Zambia, and the Central African Republic are undernourished, the highest in the report. In Timor-Leste, Burundi, and Papua New Guinea, approximately half of children under five are too short for their age due to nutritional deficiencies.

The report outlined some bright spots in the fight to end world hunger. The level of hunger in developing countries as measured by the GHI has fallen by 29 per cent since 2000. 20 countries, including Rwanda, Cambodia, and Myanmar, have all reduced their GHI scores by over 50 per cent each since 2000. And for the second year in a row, no developing countries for which data was available were in the ‘extremely alarming’ category.

Although the Latin America region has the lowest regional GHI score in the developing world, Haiti, for example, has the fourth highest GHI score at an “alarming” 36.9. Mexico has a low level of overall hunger, but also contains areas within its borders where child stunting, an indicator of child undernutrition, is relatively high.

The GHI, now in its 11th year, ranks countries based on four key indicators: undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting. The 2016 report ranked 118 countries in the developing world, almost half of which have ‘serious’ or ‘alarming’ hunger levels.

“The 2030 Agenda set a clear global objective for an end to hunger, everywhere, within the next 14 years,” says David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change. “Too many people are hungry today. There is a need for urgent, thoughtful and innovative action to ensure that no one ever goes hungry again.”

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