According to the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI), released today, the developing world has made substantial progress in reducing hunger, falling by 29 percent since 2000.

The GHI, jointly published by Concern Worldwide, Welthungerhilfe and IFPRI, is a tool designed to track hunger at the country, regional and global levels and to assess progress in combatting hunger. The GHI’s aim is to raise awareness and understanding that will support actions and commitments to reducing hunger. The GHI contains information on 118 countries, excluding most high-income countries, and is based on four indicators: undernourishment (the share of the population with insufficient caloric intake), child wasting (the proportion of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition), child stunting (the proportion of children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five). The hunger levels for countries and regions are categorized as either low, moderate, serious, alarming or extremely alarming.

The percentage of global undernourishment has decreased from 18.5 percent to 13.1 percent, stunted and wasted children under the age of 5 have decreased from 37.8 percent to 28.1 percent and 9.9 percent to 8.4 percent respectively, and child mortality has decreased from 8.2 percent to 4.7 percent.

However, progress has been uneven and there are significant disparities at the regional, national, and subnational levels. The report highlights that Africa South of the Sahara and South Asia, despite achieving the largest absolute reductions (from 44.4 to 30.1 and 38.2 to 29 points respectively), still have the highest GHI scores and progress needs to accelerate in these regions order to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. Conversely, the smallest absolute reductions have been achieved in the Near East and North Africa (from 18.3 points to 11.7 points), and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (from 14.1 points to 8.3 points). Despite these regional disparities, the report argues that there is no evidence of stagnation in hunger reduction in any regions.

On a country level, 22 countries have reduced their GHI scores by more than 50 percent since 2000 and 70 countries have reduced their GHI scores by between 25 and 49.9 percent. However, global hunger still remains alarmingly high and 50 countries still suffer from serious or alarming levels. Of all the countries with serious and alarming levels of hunger, Myanmar, Rwanda and Cambodia have achieved the largest reductions, at just over 50 percent. The report suggests that the transition from civil war and political instability towards relative stability has supported this progress. In contrast, 7 countries still suffer from alarming levels of hunger and 5 of these countries are in Africa South of the Sahara (Yemen and Haiti are the other two). Chad and the Central African Republic are found to have the highest hunger levels and have achieved relatively little progress in reducing hunger. These countries illustrate that conflict, poor governance, and climate change remain significant challenges to tackling hunger worldwide and highlights the need for a transformative plan of action.

The report also illustrates the importance of documenting hunger at the subnational level and that in some countries progress on the national level masks large intra-country levels of hunger. For instance, Mexico’s stunting rate is relatively low at 13.6 percent, however the southern state of Chiapas has a stunting level of 31.4 percent. Other examples of countries, highlighted in the report, that experience varying degrees of hunger at the subnational level for a range of indicators include Jordan, Zambia, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. Examining hunger at the subnational level can support future actions and reductions in hunger by identifying areas of a country that lag behind and/or are in crisis.

This year’s edition also includes an essay by David Nabarro, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which he presents a transformational plan for development and achieving Zero Hunger by 2030. He argues that the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a blueprint for achieving sustainable development and ending hunger and poverty. He specifically highlights that Zero Hunger can be supported through innovative approaches that combine the strengths of multiple actors. Examples of these innovative approaches include the Zero Hunger Challenge (a multi stakeholder platform for collective action) and Compact2025. These approaches need to be supported by ambitious national development plans that support efforts to end hunger but also focuses on ending rural poverty, empowering women, promoting sustainable agriculture and preserving resources.

The report concludes with four sets of policy recommendations that are likely to accelerate progress towards ‘Zero Hunger’ in the context of the 2030 Agenda. The first set emphasizes the need for governments to make a whole-of-government commitment to Zero Hunger that integrates actions to deliver Zero Hunger in national development plans, provides long-term financing, and coordinates actions across key sectors and programs, including agriculture, nutrition, health, social protection, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene. The second set of recommendations focuses on transformation of the food system by developing policies that promote innovative approaches to tackling hunger, minimize food loss and waste, prioritize agriculture production for food and nutrition security, and improve smallholder productivity. The third set of recommendations emphasizes the importance of leaving no one behind. In this regard, the report recommends that structural inequalities within international trade and financial systems are addressed and a design of policies that focus on improving the food and nutrition security of the most excluded groups. The fourth set of recommendations focuses on improving the capacity to measure and monitor progress accurately highlighting that international organizations and governments must support the collection of independent and accurate hunger and nutrition-related data.

Read more about the GHI findings for India, Central America and the Caribbean, and Africa south of the Sahara.

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