Pakistan placed at 61st position in Global Hunger Index 2008

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan ranks at 61st position in Global Hunger Index-2008 with 21.7 points out of 88 countries surveyed.

The Index, released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in connection with the World Food Day (October 16) for the third year in a row, shows Pakistan’s rate fell to 21.7 from 25.3 in 1990. It also shows Congo with highest hunger rate of 42.7 points and placed last in the ladder.

India is placed at the 66th position with 23.7 points as it is found that not a single Indian state falls in the ‘low hunger’ or `moderate hunger’ categories. While twelve states fall in the ‘alarming’ categories, Madhya Pradesh shows extreme levels of hunger. Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam fall in the serious category.

The Index ranks countries on a 100-point scale with zero being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst. In general, a value greater than 10 indicates a serious problem, a value greater than 20 is alarming while a value exceeding 30 is extremely alarming.

Other countries like Bangladesh scored 25.2 points (70th place), Nepal 20.6 points (57th), Sri Lanka 15 points (39th), Thailand 9.9 points (23rd), China 7.1 points (15th) and Mauritius 5 points with first position. Around 33 countries across the world have alarming or extremely alarming levels of hunger, according to Global Hunger Index-2008. The Index measures global hunger by ranking countries on three indicators, which include child malnutrition, rates of child mortality and the number of people who are calorie deficient. The study notes high levels of hunger even in economically well-off states of the country attributed to acute child malnutrition.

The Global Hunger Index-2008 was calculated for 120 countries in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, but only 88 countries are ranked in the report, after 32 are excluded due to low levels of hunger. Industrialized countries were not included in the rankings, as well as a few nations for which data is not available such as Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

“The purpose of compiling these statistics was to enable each country to measure its progress relative to others. Also, we want to learn from successes and failures of policy planning in different regions of the world,” said Director General IFPRI. “Hunger is closely tied to poverty and countries with high levels of hunger are overwhelmingly low or low-middle income countries,” the report said.

In South Asia, the major problem is a high prevalence of underweight in children under five, resulting largely from the lower nutritional and educational status of women and health programmes, inadequate water and sanitation services. Most of the countries ranked in the Index are net importers of grains, and are therefore more likely to suffer because of rising food prices. The world has made only slow progress in reducing hunger in past decades, with dramatic differences among countries and regions, IFPRI Director General said and added population and income growth, high energy prices, bio fuels, science and technology, climate change, globalisation, and urbanization are introducing drastic changes to food consumption, production, and markets. While South Asia has made significant strides since 1990, progress in Sub-Saharan Africa has been minimal.

IFPRI estimates that the additional global public investment required to overcome the food crisis, and still meet the first Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty and hunger by 2015, is at least US$14 billion per annum. Around 45 % of global population falls in the alarming categories as highlighted by the Index. Poverty alleviation is not adequate enough to feed the millions of hungry mouths. What is needed is an inclusive growth and an improved economic access to food and to insulate the poor from market fluctuations.

For Sub-Saharan Africa, the annual additional investment is estimated to be about US$ 5 billion, if African governments fulfill their commitment to invest 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture. IFPRI calls for a fair, global and regional trade regime and expanding humanitarian assistance to food-insecure people to substantially improve food security in the 21st century.

The News, 18/10/2008

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