2016 Global hunger index: Getting to zero hunger

Klaus von Grebmer, Jill Bernstein, David Nabarro, Nilam Prasai, Shazia Amin, Yisehac Yohannes, Andrea Sonntag, Fraser Patterson, Olive Towey, Jennifer Thompson
global hunger index

The 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) presents a multidimensional measure of national, regional, and global hunger, focusing on how the world can get to Zero Hunger by 2030.

The developing world has made substantial progress in reducing hunger since 2000. The 2016 GHI shows that the level of hunger in developing countries as a group has fallen by 29 percent. Yet this progress has been uneven, and great disparities in hunger continue to exist at the regional, national, and subnational levels.

Levels of hunger are still serious or alarming in 50 countries. The highest hunger levels are still found in Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia. Although GHI scores for these two regions have declined over time, the current levels remain close to the alarming category. Africa south of the Sahara has achieved the largest absolute improvement since 2000 and South Asia has also seen a sizable reduction—but the decline in hunger must accelerate in these regions if the world is to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.

The 2016 report, with an essay from United Nations Special Adviser David Nabarro, hails the new paradigm of international development proposed in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which envisages Zero Hunger by 2030, as one goal among 17, in a holistic, integrated, and transformative plan for the world. To get to Zero Hunger while leaving no one behind, the 2016 GHI highlights the importance of identifying the regions, countries, and populations that are most vulnerable to hunger and undernutrition so progress can be accelerated there.

To reflect the multidimensional nature of hunger, the GHI combines the following four component indicators into one index:

  1. Undernourishment: the proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population (reflecting the share of the population whose caloric intake is insufficient;
  2. Child wasting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from wasting (that is, low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
  3. Child stunting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from stunting (that is, low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and
  4. Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

Since 2015, GHI scores were calculated using a new and improved formula. The revision replaces child underweight, previously the only indicator of child undernutrition, with two indicators of child undernutrition—child wasting and child stunting.

The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale. Zero is the best score (no hunger), and 100 is the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in practice.

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