South Asia takes top position in child stunting rates: report | Pakistan Today

South Asia takes top position in child stunting rates: report

LAHORE: Child stunting and child wasting rates in South Asia are the highest in the world,  according to a recently published report by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe that studied hunger and forced migrations around the world made by Laura Hammond.

The study also included the Global Hunger Index (GHI), a list which ranked countries based on the levels of hunger prevalent in their society. The index was compiled using scores calculated by combining specific national food security indicators.

Pakistan ranks at 106 out of 118 countries on the list, with a GHI score of 32.6, down from 36 in 2010 and 38.3 in the year 2000. The progress in tackling food-related issues is particularly slow given that the GHI was 38.3 in the year 2000.

National scores for Global Hunger Index were calculated using four indicators of hunger: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. Data for calculating these scores was gathered from different UN and multilateral agencies.

Moreover, countries that had GHI scores of less than 5 were collectively ranked from 1-15 on the list and included Belarus, Bosnia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Estonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Ukraine and Uruguay, among others.

The Russian Federation was ranked 21st in the world with a score of 6.1, Iran was 24th (7.3), China was 25 out of 118 (7.6), Saudi Arabia was ranked 31 (8.5) and South Africa was listed 60 (14.5).

Lowest-ranked countries included Central African Republic (53.7), Chad (45.4), Yemen (39.7), Zambia (37.6), Haiti (35.6) and Afghanistan (34.3).

Hunger and Displacement Must Be Understood and Addressed as Political Problems

Hunger is often understood to result from environmental or natural causes. Many analysts attributed the 2011 famine in Somalia, for instance, to the “worst drought in 60 years” (BBC 2011) rather than to the complex interplay of violent conflict and the blocking of humanitarian access and displacement routes—factors that, when combined with the drought and the extreme destitution of people living in agricultural and agro-pastoral areas of southern and central Somalia, led to mass starvation.

In fact, hunger, like displacement, is usually the result of political circumstances. Natural disasters—droughts, floods, and severe weather events—lead to hunger and displacement only when governments are unprepared or unwilling to respond because they either lack the capacity or engage in deliberate neglect or abuse of power.

Drought, for example, is a slow-onset disaster that takes several years to develop. With adequate early warning and response systems, as well as a healthy dose of political will, there is no reason that drought must lead to hunger and famine.

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