2012 Global Hunger Index - Background Facts and Key Findings

The 2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI) is calculated for 120 developing countries and countries in transition for which data on the three indicators of hunger are available.

This year’s GHI reflects data from 2005-2010—the most recent country-level data available on the three GHI measures. It is thus a snapshot of the recent past.

The GHI combines three equally weighted indicators into one score: the proportion of people who are undernourished, the proportion of children under five who are underweight, and the mortality rate of children younger than age five.

An increase in a country’s GHI score indicates that the hunger situation is worsening, while a decrease in the score indicates improvement in the country’s hunger situation.

According to the GHI, hunger on a global scale remains “serious.” Twenty countries have levels of hunger that are “alarming” or “extremely alarming.”

The 2012 world GHI fell by 26 percent from the 1990 world GHI, from a score of 19.8 to 14.7.

South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have the highest levels of hunger with regional scores of 22.5 and 20.7, respectively.

From the 1990 GHI to the 2012 GHI, 15 countries reduced their scores by 50 percent or more. In terms of absolute progress, Angola, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nicaragua, Niger, and Vietnam saw the largest improvements in their scores from the 1990 to 2012 GHI.

Haiti’s GHI score fell about one quarter from 1990-2001, but most of this improvement was reversed in subsequent years. The devastating 2010 earthquake, although not fully captured by the 2012 GHI because of insufficient data, pushed Haiti back into the category of “extremely alarming.”

With the exception of North Korea, all the countries in which the hunger situation worsened from the 1990 GHI to the 2012 GHI are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

More than 50 percent of the population is undernourished in Burundi, Eritrea, and Haiti.

Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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