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Global hunger index

Summary of report1

The global hunger index (GHI) includes three equally weighted indicators: the proportion of undernourished people as estimated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the prevalence of underweight in children under five as compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the under-five mortality rate as reported by UNICEF. The rationale for developing the GHI was to go beyond dietary energy availability, to better reflect the multidimensional causes and manifestations of hunger.

Up until now, the GHI has been calculated for 1981, 1992, 1997 and 2003, which is the most recent year for which data are available. It has been used to rank 97 developing countries and 22 countries in transition. According to Doris Weismann, who developed the index, regional trends show that in the past two decades, South and Southeast Asia have achieved some success in reducing hunger. She attributes this to the Green Revolution2 and to investments in the social sector and in infrastructure. In contrast, the trends are mixed for Sub-Saharan African countries, where the Green Revolution has largely failed and where wars and AIDS have wreaked havoc on food security in many countries.

Violent conflicts, especially protracted wars, have long-term negative effects on the GHI. "More attention should be given to conflict prevention and resolution, as well as to rehabilitation measures in the field of agriculture, nutrition and health, after peace has been restored," argues Weismann.

Weismann also found that countries with a HIV prevalence rate greater than 10 percent have a GHI score that is almost 4 percentage points worse than that of countries with lower HIV prevalence rates. She says this can be attributed to concurrent significant differences in the proportion of undernourished and the under-five mortality rate.

Show footnotes

1IFPRI (2009). Global Hunger Index. A focus on Conflict and AIDS. IFPRI News

2In the late sixties, the phrase "Green Revolution" was coined to describe the phenomenal growth in agriculture brought about by investment in an international agricultural research system to transfer and adapt technologies to conditions in developing countries. Improved crop varieties, increased use of fertilisers and irrigation all contributed to a dramatic yield increase in Asia and Latin America, beginning in the late sixties. Source: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ib11.pdf

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Reference this page

Global hunger index. Field Exchange 37, November 2009. p24. www.ennonline.net/fex/37/global