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“Extremely alarming” levels of hunger in poorest countries

Recent global recession, financial crisis and climate change are a “deadly cocktail” of hunger and malnutrition according to the new Global Hunger Index report. 

Increasing levels

The report states that 29 countries around the world have “extremely alarming” levels of hunger. Thirteen countries have actually seen increases in the number of people who are hungry since 1990.

Joint report

This is the fourth year the report has been released by Concern Worldwide, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and German NGO Welthungerhilfe.

Indicating factors

The report ranks countries on three main indicators: prevalence of child malnutrition, adult malnutrition and rates of child mortality. These factors are combined into one Global Hunger Index score. The higher the score, the more desperate the predicament of those affected.

Of the 10 countries that have seen the largest increase in their scores, nine are in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s score has increased by an appalling 53%.

Alarming situation

Africa is also home to the highest proportion of undernourished people (eg 76 and 68% of the population, respectively, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea). It also has the world’s highest child mortality rate: Sierra Leone is an example at 26%.

Despite some progress over the past 20 years, the situation is also alarming in south Asia, largely because of widespread child malnutrition. In Bangladesh and India, more than 40% of children are underweight.

Countries with the most severe hunger problems also had high levels of gender inequality.

Hunger and gender

“The research shows that equalising men’s and women’s status would reduce the number of malnourished children by 13.4 million in south Asia and by 1.7 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. The fact that we now know that that hunger and gender inequality go hand-in-hand is a key finding, so a crucial factor towards ending world hunger is the empowerment of women and eradicating gender disparities in education, economic participation, health, and political opportunities, “ says Connell Foley, Director of Strategy, Advocacy and Learning at Concern Worldwide.

For full report to download in .pdf format click here.