The annual index is designed to measure and track hunger at global, national and regional levels to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. India needs to broaden its horizon as it is among 45 countries that have serious levels of hunger.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement on October 2 where he declared rural India ‘Open Defecation Free’ (ODF) but the report says that the country is still not open-defecation free yet. In 2014, PM instituted the ‘Clean India’ campaign to end open defecation and ensured that all households had toilets. Even with a new toilet building project, open defecation is still practiced. This situation puts population’s health and children’s growth and development at risk and as a result, their ability to absorb nutrients is compromised. The report doesn’t specify whether the observations are of urban or rural population.
The report admires the efforts of two South Asian countries- Nepal and Bangladesh, regarding fighting hunger. The report said that outside India, these two countries have made significant advances in the field of child nutrition and their experiences are instructive.
The report stated that Nepal showed a remarkable reduction in child stunting from 56.6% in 2001 to 40.1% in 2011. It is correlated with increased household assets, increased maternal education, implementation and use of health and nutrition programs, improved sanitation and, including antenatal and neonatal care.
Looking at Bangladesh’s steady economic growth and success the report mentioned that 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% in 1997 to 40.2% in 2011.
The study accredited the decrease primarily to rising household wealth associated with pro-poor economic growth and gains in parental education as well as sanitation, health, demographic factors reflecting decreased fertility rates.
Some of the serious social consequences of wasting can lead to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes, an NGO warned. It invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes for underweight and stunted girls.
The major focus of the index was on the relation between climate change and hunger. The report also explains the impact of extreme weather on food production and food security.
India’s Performance Over the Year Since 2014
In 2014, India ranked 55 out of 77 countries. The report said just 9.6% of all children between 6 to 23 months of age are fed minimum acceptable diet in India. As of 2015-16, 39% of households had no sanitation facilities while 90% of Indian households used an improved drinking water source.
The Global Hunger Index ranking doesn’t show significant improvements by India on four key indicators. The Global Hunger Index report, prepared and published jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe was calculated on the basis of four indicators that are – child mortality, undernourishment, child wasting (weight for age) and child stunting.