The Global Hunger Index, GHI, is a statistical tool for collecting data on famine in the world and malnutrition in various countries.
The Index has been adopted and developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) which published it for the first time in 2006. The German NGO Welthungerhilfe and the Irish Concern Worldwide, European partners in the Alliance2015 network, collaborate in the annual production. Since 2008, the Italian edition is curated by Cesvi.
The Index classifies countries on a scale of 100 points, where 0 represents the best possible value (absence of hunger) and 100 the worst. The higher the value the worse is the state of nutrition of a country. Values below 9.9 show a very low incidence of hunger, while from 10 to 19.9 the value is moderate. Values from 20 to 34.9 show up a serious situation of hunger, while values from 35 to 49.9 the situation are alarming. Above 50 the problem of hunger is to be considered extremely alarming.
The GHI combines four indicators:
- the percentage of population that is undernourished;
- the percentage of children under five that are emaciated (inadequate ratio between weight and height);
- the percentage of children under five with growth delay (inadequate ratio between height and age);
- the mortality rate for children under five.
Every year the Index focuses on a specific theme that represents the multidimensionality of the “hunger” problem and possible solutions – as well as updating the data on hunger in the world at regional, national and local levels. The most recent editions have focused on the link between hunger and human health, climate change, forced migration, inequalities in the access to food and resources and the theme of hunger in the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
2021 Global Hunger Index – Hunger and Food Systems in Conflict Settings
The 2021 Global Hunger Index presents a worldwide moderate level of hunger with a global score of 17.9, improving since 2012 when the global score was in the serious range. However, in many regions, the progress is too slow and hunger remains acute: 1 country registers an extremely alarming level of hunger, 9 countries present alarming levels and 37 countries fall in the serious category.
After decades of decline, the percentage of malnourished people in the world is on the rise: In 2020, around 10% of the global population is undernourished, accounting for 811 million people, 121 million more than 2019. Among them, there are 155 million people in a state of acute food insecurity, 20 million more than the previous year.
Africa South of the Sahara and Southern Asia remain the regions with the highest levels of hunger in the world, with a score of respectively 27.1 and 26.1. In both areas, hunger is at a serious level because of the high percentage of undernourished people and the high rates of child wasting and stunting.
The 2021 GHI highlights that the 2030 deadline for the Second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), known as Zero Hunger, is at risk of not being met: at the current pace, globally and for 47 countries – 10 more than in the previous edition – it will not be possible to even reach a low level of hunger in the Severity Scale.
Ever more plentiful and prolonged, armed conflicts remain the main cause of hunger in the world. Hunger and war are tied up together. Violent conflicts have a devastating impact on food systems because they harm them in every aspect, from production to consumption. And prolonged food insecurity is one of the most severe legacies of war. At the same time, the rise of food insecurity can contribute to violent conflicts.
Turning the tide is still possible. Even in a hostile global environment, the links between conflict and hunger can be broken and the world can make the most of food systems for advancing peace. At once, it is essential to address conflicts at a political level and to implement the international humanitarian right sanctioning who violates the human right to food, e.g. by using hunger as a weapon of war or leaving the most vulnerable with no access to humanitarian aid.
2020 Global Hunger Index – One Decade to Zero Hunger: Linking Health and Sustainable Food Systems
The 2020 Global Hunger Index presents a moderate level of hunger with a score of 18.2, improving with respect to 2000 when the global GHI score fell in the serious range. However, in many regions the progress is too slow and hunger remains acute: 11 countries register alarming hunger levels and 40 countries belong to the serious category. The percentage of malnourished people in the world is stable, but the absolute value is on the rise: in 2019 8.9% of the global population was malnourished, representing 690 million people. Sothern Asia and Africa South of the Sahara are the regions with the highest levels of hunger (scores of 27.8 and 26). In both areas, the level of hunger is serious because of the high proportion of undernourished people and of the high child stunting rate.
From the 2020 edition emerges that the Second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), known as Zero Hunger is at risk of not meeting the 2030 deadline: at the current pace, 37 countries will not even reach a low level of hunger in the Severity Scale.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent economic recession and the devastating consequences of climate change are aggravating the food and nutritional insecurity of millions worlwide. In fact, the number of people exposed to famine and hunger could double.
The One Health approach presented in the 2020 GHI, based on the aknowledgement of the interconnections between human beigns, animals, plants and their shared environment, in addition to the aknowledgement of more equal trading relations, highlights the necessity to holistically deal with the multiple challenges we are facing to avoid future health crises, heal the plan and eradicate hunger.
2019 Global Hunger Index – The Challenge of Hunger and Climate Change
The 2019 Global Hunger Index is focused on the link between hunger and climate change: Two intertwined challenges which require immediate actions and long-term solutions.
The 2019 GHI registers that globally hunger is shifting from serious to moderate, with a 31% decrease compared with the 2000 GHI score. However, the percentage of popualtion who have no regular access to sufficient calories has been stagnating since 2015, the number of people suffering from hunger grew to 822 millions (they were 795 millions in 2015) and 149 million children are victims of child stunting because of severe malnutrition. In many countries the progresses have been too slow to reach the Zero Hunger Goal by 2030. In fact, at the current pace abour 45 countries will not event reach a low level of hunger.
The 2019 Index highlights the urgence of favouring development paths which respect the commitments made with the Paris Agreement and include adaptation and sustainable development interventions: the priority must be given to resilience, food system transformation and actions to mitigate climate change without compromising food and nutrional security.
Climate change has devastating effects on food security, biodiversity, water resources, ecosystems, soil and agricultural production, with worlwide large-scale consequences. Without adaptation measures, by 2030 global crop yields will register an average decrease of 2% per decade, mainly affecting the most food insecure regions and exacerbating tensions and inequalities.
2018 Global Hunger Index – Forced Migration and Hunger
The 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows that the world has made gradual, long-term progress in reducing overall hunger, but this progress has been uneven. Areas of severe hunger and undernutrition stubbornly persist, reflecting human misery for millions.
Worldwide, the level of hunger and undernutrition falls into the serious category, with a GHI score of 20.9. This is down from 29.2 in 2000, equating to a decline of 28 percent. But for many countries the current pace isn’t fast enough to meet the Zero Hunger Goal by 2030.
The 2018 Index focuses on forced migration as both a cause and a consequence of hunger. Forced migration and hunger are are closely intertwined challenges which affect the poorest and most conflict-ridden regions of the world.
The report identifies and analyses the main factors which hinder an effective humanitarian aid to people before, during and after displacement, underlining the need for long-term action and political solutions.