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Alarming levels of hunger highlight scale of challenge to achieve ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2030 – Global Hunger Index report

The Cover of the Global Hunger Index 2020 Photo: AFP/Tauseef Mustafa 2020
The Cover of the Global Hunger Index 2020 Photo: AFP/Tauseef Mustafa 2020

‘Alarming’ levels of hunger have been identified in 11 countries and hunger remains at ‘serious’ levels in another 40 countries, according to the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published today. The world faces an “immense mountain” if it is to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development goal of ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2030.

In many countries the situation is progressing too slowly or even worsening, the report states. The latest projections show that 37 countries will fail to achieve even ‘low’ hunger levels by 2030, according to the 15th annual report in the GHI series, published by Irish humanitarian organisation Concern Worldwide and its German NGO partner Welthungerhilfe.

The report found  ‘alarming’ hunger levels in:  Chad;  Timor-Lest; Madagascar: Burundi; Central African Republic; Comoros; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Somalia; South Sudan; Syria; and Yemen. 

For 46 countries in the moderate, serious, or alarming categories, GHI scores have improved since 2012, but for 14 countries in those categories, GHI scores show that hunger and undernutrition have worsened. 

Data from 107 countries

The GHI used data from 107 countries to produce a ranking and categorisation of hunger levels using five categories; from low and moderate, to serious, alarming and extremely alarming (see notes to the editor).   The data used for the 2020 report does not yet, however, reflect the damaging impact which COVID-19 has had on countries, but rather points to where underlying vulnerabilities to food insecurity already exist.

“Even before COVID-19, the world was already off track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. That negative trajectory has been forcefully exacerbated by the events of this year.  The disastrous year of 2020 -- a global pandemic, a devastating outbreak of locusts in East Africa — has resulted in an economic downturn affecting every corner of the world,” Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Dominic MacSorley said.

COVID-19 has exposed the woeful inadequacies of the world’s food system and its inability to deal with overlapping global and regional crises.

Dominic MacSorley, Chief Executive, Concern Worldwide

 “The phenomenal impact of these multiple crises – combined with the ongoing effects of climate change and conflict - is rapidly escalating food and nutrition insecurity for millions, especially for those who were already most vulnerable.“

“COVID-19 has exposed the woeful inadequacies of the world’s food system and its inability to deal with overlapping global and regional crises.”

Experts from the Chatham House policy think tank argue in the GHI report that only by taking both an integrated and holistic approach to global and environmental health will it be possible to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.


“Under the current system we are hitting planetary and social boundaries – the ecological ceiling and the social foundation beyond which humans cannot safely and equitably thrive,” authors Robyn Alders, Osman Dar, Richard Kock and Francesco Rampa state.  The current COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing frequency of the emergence of new infectious diseases and their rapid spread are a manifestation of this.

“COVID-19 has made it clearer than ever that our food systems, as they stand, are inadequate to address the task of achieving Zero Hunger,” Concern’s Director of Strategy, Advocacy and Learning, Connell Foley said.   “The unprecedented disruptive force of the pandemic has once again laid bare the fragility and inequities of our current globalised food systems, the threat to global health and food security posed by increasing human impacts on the environment and wildlife, and the need to address these challenges in a holistic, ambitious way.”

Turning point

The current crises must serve as a turning point not only to transform our food systems but to end the daily scourge of hunger -- the greatest moral and ethical failure of our generation, he added.

“Far too many are suffering from hunger and undernutrition. In 2018 alone, 5.3 million children died before their fifth birthdays. The numbers are staggering and are rising. Behind each statistic there is a mother struggling to feed her child and not succeeding. It is shockingly unacceptable especially because it is preventable,” Mr MacSorley said.

“There is an immense mountain that needs to be climbed in order to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030, and that mountain has grown far steeper in 2020.”

The Global Hunger Index 2020 can be accessed here

Global launch

  • There will be an online launch of the 2020 Global Hunger Index at 2pm on Friday, October 16 (World Food Day).  The keynote address will be delivered by Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.  This will be followed by discussion by a panel of experts.  To register please click here


For media queries and to arrange media interviews contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, 01 4177712, 087 9880524 or by emailing 


Notes to the Editor

  • Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe produce the GHI annually to track hunger levels around the world, understand progress, and highlight areas for action.
  • GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators: undernourishment (share of the population with insufficient caloric intake), child wasting (share of children under-five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute under nutrition), child stunting (share of children under-five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic under nutrition), and child mortality (mortality rate of children under-five, partly reflecting the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments). Based on the values of the four indicators, the GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from ‘low’ to ‘extremely alarming’. To learn more about the formula used see Appendixes A and B of the report.  
  • The report uses the most recently published official data from a range of specific sources including FAO, UNICEF and WHO. As a result, the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic is not reflected in the index.
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