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The Global Hunger Index

Thirty-three countries around the world have alarming or extremely alarming levels of hunger, according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index.
The Democratic Republic of Congo scored the worst on the Index, followed by Eritrea, Burundi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ethiopia.

The Global Hunger Index is being released for World Food Day (October 16) by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in conjunction with Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.

The Index ranks countries according to the prevalence of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality, and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient.

Another obstacle

“The world has made only slow progress in reducing hunger in past decades, with dramatic differences among countries and regions,” said Joachim von Braun, IFPRI director general. “Population and income growth, high energy prices, biofuels, science and technology, climate change, globalisation and urbanisation are introducing drastic changes to food consumption, production and markets.

“The current financial crisis complicates the picture. It actually brings some short-term relief for hungry people, as it contributes to reduced commodity prices. But the credit crunch makes access to capital difficult, including for agriculture and that adds another obstacle for overcoming the food crisis.”  

Addressing the crisis

To address the current food crisis and improve the long-term functioning of the world food system, IFPRI recommends three areas for high-priority policy actions: productivity and research; nutrition and social protection; markets and trade.

IFPRI estimates that overcoming the food crisis and meeting the first Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty and hunger by 2015, will cost at least US$14 billion per annum. For Sub-Saharan Africa, the annual additional investment is estimated to be about US$5 billion.

The way forward

Von Braun said that “priorities for action at the national and global level must address the immediate food needs of poor people. National governments and the global community should begin to correct previous failures in agricultural policy by investing in agriculture and food production, setting up reliable systems for assisting the most vulnerable people in a timely way, and establishing a fair global trading system and a conductive investment environment.

“The strategic way forward must be facilitated by international cooperation and guided by a strong global governance architecture of agriculture, food, and nutrition.

“To substantially improve food security in the 21st century, changes need to be made now”. 

Click here to find out more about the Global Hunger Index.