WASHINGTON, D.C. – Global hunger has declined by one-third since 1990. Considering the number of people who have been helped by foreign aid and other efforts to reduce global poverty, the number of people still suffering from issues related to food security can sometimes be overlooked. Today, it is estimated that approximately 870 million, or 1 in 8 people worldwide, still suffer from hunger.
The 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI), a 66-page report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), evaluates the current state of national, regional, and global hunger. The report classifies the rate of hunger in countries by assigning countries a GHI score, a number from 1 to 100. The GHI score is calculated by averaging the percentage of the population that is undernourished, the percentage of children under five who are malnourished, and the percentage of children who die before the age of five. The greater the GHI score, the more malnourishment and premature death, both hunger-related issues, a country experiences.
The GHI classifies countries into several categories, with countries having high GHI scores receiving an “alarming” or “extremely alarming” classification. According to the report, South Asia has the greatest GHI score, placing it in the “extremely alarming” category. The levels of hunger and malnourishment in 18 other countries, the majority of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, are classified as “alarming” or “extremely alarming,” as well.
The data collection and analysis efforts of the IFPRI have allowed the organization to provide more focused solutions on how to improve food security in the world’s most poverty-stricken regions. In constructing a solution to the problems these countries face, the report focuses on a concept known as resilience. Resilience refers to the ability to resist going back to a previous way of doing things, while simultaneously making adjustments to new stresses and making considerable changes to a system. The report offers several approaches for helping countries become more resilient and therefore better equipped to remain food-secure in the future.
According to the GHI, the residents of many underdeveloped countries experience shocks and stressors that affect their ability to incorporate food security efforts permanently. The report points out that relief efforts, important as they are, do not typically address the underlying vulnerabilities of a population. A better understanding of the shocks that affect a particular population will help lead to a better understanding of why people in some regions fare better than others. The report concludes that in order to achieve food and nutrition security, more effort is needed to protect and improve poor and vulnerable people’s ability to respond to shocks and stressors.
In order to determine how this can be done, the report notes that more frequent research and evaluation of households in impoverished countries are needed since current research efforts regarding the resilience of impoverished countries are too infrequent to gather the data necessary for a proper assessment on how to improve resilience. Gathering the data needed to develop long-term solutions properly will require an increase in the frequency of household and large panel surveys in countries with high rates of poverty and hunger.
Efforts such as this help equip hunger and poverty fighting organizations with the proper knowledge, and also help ensure that poverty and hunger reduction efforts are targeted and efficient. In other words, research efforts such as the 2013 Global Hunger Index can help organizations develop long-term solutions in the most cost-effective manner. The report’s findings suggest that efforts to reduce poverty and hunger in countries need to be individualized, tailored to countries’ specific cultures, environmental and natural disaster threats, and resource availability. Combining short-term relief efforts with increased study of the specific shocks and stressors that affect a region can help ensure that countries ultimately embrace the knowledge and techniques they receive, thereby establishing long-lasting solutions to a country’s hunger and poverty issues.
– Cavarrio Carter