Global Hunger Index top 10: Which nations have reduced hunger most?
The Global Hunger Index, released Monday, shows progress against hunger in South Asia and Latin America. But the world needs to focus on childhood nutrition for this to continue.
(Page 2 of 2)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Some highlights from the 2010 Global Hunger Index:
The Top 10 hunger reducers since 1990 (from No. 10 to No. 1)
- Saudi Arabia
The Top 9 where hunger increased (from less to most)
- The Gambia
- Guinea Bissau
- North Korea
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
Malaysia has built on a history of hunger-reduction programs to focus more recently on child nutrition and in particular on addressing a prevalence of underweight children. Malaysia has increased food aid for families with malnourished children, while coupling the aid with nutrition education programs. Also up: supplementary feeding programs for preschool and primary school children.
It would be hard to find a more perfect storm for hunger than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a long civil war, massive population displacement, and a general economic decline have led to widespread food insecurity – and rising hunger and chronic malnutrition. As food production has collapsed, emergency food assistance has increased to keep much of the population alive – but does little, food experts say, to address long-term issues like childhood malnourishment and self-sustainability.
Despite impressive economic growth rate in recent years, India stands out for its poor performance in reducing its overall hunger rate and in particular child malnutrition. (As opposed to China, which has combined high economic growth with focused government programs to deliver an impressive reduction in rates of hunger). More than 40 percent of children under 5 in India are underweight – a result, some food experts say, of the low nutritional and social status of women in the country.
Brazil is one Latin American country that has used what is called a “conditional cash transfer” program to accelerate what had been gradual progress in reducing hunger and childhood malnutrition. Called “Bolsa Familia,” the program puts cash in the hands of poor Brazilian families that commit to putting children in school and keeping them there.
In Brazil, the program has helped to reduce the number of stunted children and to raise the nutrition levels of impoverished children closer to those of their wealthier cohorts.
“We’re learning a lot of lessons from Latin America,” says IFPRI’s Ruel, who notes that Brazil’s program works – much like a similar one in Mexico – because it is tied to community-level nutrition education programs.
Testing the cash transfer format, Concern Worldwide has established a $25 million program in Niger that sends cash to mothers through their cell phones to allow them to buy foods in local markets.