Countries can gauge their economic performance by looking at gross domestic product, but to assess their progress on fighting hunger, they must usually consider a multitude of indicators. To provide a simple way of ranking countries and illustrating trends in hunger worldwide, IFPRI developed a Global Hunger Index (GHI). The index captures three dimensions of hunger: insufficient availability of food, shortfalls in the nutritional status of children, and child mortality. Using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the index ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst. By highlighting this information, the index is designed to help mobilize political will and promote effective policies for combating hunger.
The 2006 GHI, based on data from 2003, shows that South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are current hot spots of hunger and undernutrition, although countries such as Haiti and Cambodia also have alarmingly high levels of hunger.
The report on the 2006 GHI attracted widespread attention in a number of countries, gaining coverage by international media outlets and information services (Reuters, BBC, UN Wire, and Relief Web), and in the news in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and the United States.
India’s poor ranking on the GHI and lack of improvement from 1997 to 2003 despite favorable economic trends stirred considerable debate and discussion in Indian newspapers and web logs (blogs). The debate over the GHI ranking and its causes even reached the Indian Parliament.
In Malawi, journalists interviewed the minister of agriculture and minister of economic planning and development about that country’s poor GHI ranking.
The World Food Program cited the GHI in a press statement decrying cutbacks in food aid for children and AIDS and TB patients in Cambodia due to funding shortages.