12/03/2018 – Challenges Of Our Times / Global Hunger Index
New index reveals “inequalities of hunger” worldwide
Global hunger levels have fallen by over a quarter since 2000, but more recent rising hunger scores of several countries in the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) underline how uneven such progress has been and how precarious it is to maintain.
In sub-Saharan Africa, revised data places the Central African Republic in the “extremely alarming” category – the first time a developing country has fallen into the report’s highest category since the 2014 Index. The country has the same score today as it did in the year 2000, suggesting that any progress made in recent years has been subsequently reversed. Several other countries – including Sri Lanka, Mauritania, and Venezuela – also have higher GHI scores in 2017 than in 2008, after witnessing falling scores in the previous two decades.
“The results of this year’s Global Hunger Index show that we cannot waiver in our resolve to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030,” said Shenggen Fan, Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute. “We have made great progress toward that goal but indications that this progress is threatened emphasises the need to establish resilience in food systems. We must provide immediate aid to those areas facing the most severe crises, such as famines, and construct policies at the international and national levels to address the structural issues that create persistent food insecurity.”
Averages obscure “grim realities”
Amidst some very worrying data there is also some good news. The level of hunger in developing countries decreased by 27 per cent since 2000, while GHI scores of 14 countries – including Senegal, Azerbaijan, Peru, Panama, Brazil and China – improved by 50 per cent or more. Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda – each of which has experienced violent conflict in recent decades – were among 72 countries to have improved their GHI scores between 25 and 49.9 per cent, making progress from “extremely alarming” to “serious” levels.
Yet declines in average hunger at the regional or national levels obscure some grim realities, the authors of the Index noted. “The averages can mask lagging areas where millions are still hungry, demonstrating the need to hold governments accountable not only for investments in timely data but also for building resilience in communities at risk of disruption to their food systems from weather shocks or conflict,” they advised.
“Conflict and climate-related shocks are at the heart of this problem. We must build the resilience of communities on the ground, but we must also bolster public and political solidarity internationally,” said Concern Worldwide CEO Dominic MacSorley. “The world needs to act as one community with the shared goal of ensuring not a single child goes to bed hungry each night and no one is left behind,” he added.