India ranks below Pakistan, Sri Lanka in Global Hunger Index, report says


India has ranked 102 among 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) – below Pakistan (94), Bangladesh (88) and Sri Lanka (66) – as it continues to slide down the rankings.

In 2014, India was ranked 55 out of 77 countries, India Today reported.

The annual index is designed to measure and track hunger at the global, national and regional levels and to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger.

According to the report prepared by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, India is among the 45 countries that have serious levels of hunger.

“In India, just 9.6 percent of all children between six to 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet. As of 2015-2016, 90 percent of Indian households used an improved drinking water source while 39 percent of households had no sanitation facilities (IIPS and ICF 2017),” said the report.

On the other hand, in stark contrast to the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Oct 2 when he declared rural India ‘Open Defecation Free’ (ODF), the report also suggests that “open defecation is still practiced in India”.

“In 2014 the Prime Minister instituted the ‘Clean India’ campaign to end open defecation and ensure that all households had latrines. Even with new latrine construction, open defecation is still practiced. This situation jeopardizes the population’s health and consequently, children’s growth and development as their ability to absorb nutrients is compromised,” says the report although it does not specify whether the observations are of rural or urban India.

The report also lauds the efforts of two countries in South Asia in fighting hunger – Nepal and Bangladesh.

“Outside of India, two countries in South Asia have made significant advances in child nutrition and their experiences are instructive,” the report added.

Attributing the success in Bangladesh to the steady economic growth, the report said, “The authors conclude that success in this area can be achieved with robust economic growth and attention to ‘nutrition-sensitive’ sectors such as education, sanitation, and health. A 2015 study sought to identify the reasons behind the decline in stunting in Bangladesh at the national level from 58.5 percent in 1997 to 40.2 percent in 2011.”

“The study attributed the decrease primarily to rising household wealth associated with pro-poor economic growth and gains in parental education, as well as health, sanitation, and demographic factors reflecting decreased fertility rates. The authors conclude that success in this area can be achieved with robust economic growth and attention to ‘nutrition-sensitive’ sectors such as education, sanitation, and health.”

“Nepal’s remarkable reduction in child stunting from 56.6 percent in 2001 to 40.1 percent in 2011 is associated with and likely attributable to, increased household assets (a proxy for household wealth), increased maternal education, improved sanitation, and implementation and use of health and nutrition programs, including antenatal and neonatal care,” the report said about Nepal.

The 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI) indicates that the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide based on four indicators: undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality-since 2000.