Global Hunger Index – 2019

  • 17 Oct 2019

  • On 16th October, 2019, annual Global Hunger Index (GHI), a report jointly published by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German NGO Welthungerhilfe was published.
  • The 2019 GHI - the 14th in series, presents a multidimensional measure of global, regional, and national hunger around the globe.

Major Highlights of the Report

India and Neighbouring Countries Findings

  • India is ranked 102 of 117 countries in the GHI, 2019, behind its neighbouring countries. Its GHI score has also decelerated — from 38.9 in 2005 to 32 in 2010 and then from 32 to 30.3 between 2010 and 2019, putting it in the serious hunger category.
  • The share of wasting among children in India rose from 16.5% in the 2008-2012 period to 8% in 2014-2018.
  • India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8% - the highest wasting rate of any country in this report for which data or estimates were available.
  • India’s child stunting rate, 37.9%, is also categorized as very high in terms of its public health significance.
  • However, India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.
  • The report also mentions the central government’s Swachh Bharat programme.
  • Neighbouring countries like Nepal (73), Sri Lanka (66), Bangladesh (88), Myanmar (69) and Pakistan (94) are also in the serious hunger category, but have fared better at feeding its citizens than India, according to the report.
  • China (25) has moved to a low severity category and Sri Lanka is in the moderate severity category.

Global Findings

  • Out of 117 countries that were ranked, 43 countries have serious levels of hunger.
  • South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara are the regions with the highest 2019 GHI scores, at 29.3 and 28.4 respectively, indicating serious levels of hunger.
  • One African country, the Central African Republic, suffers from a level that is extremely alarming, while four countries—Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia—suffer from levels of hunger that are alarming.
  • The GHI scores for Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Latin America and the Caribbean, East and Southeast Asia, and the Near East and North Africa range from 6.6 to 13.3, indicating low or moderate hunger levels.
  • Seventeen countries, including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores of less than five.

Global Hunger Index

  • The GHI scores are based on a formula that captures three dimensions of hunger—insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition, and child mortality—using following  four component indicators:
    1. Undernourishment: The share of the population that is undernourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake.
    2. Child Wasting: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
    3. Child Stunting: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.
    4. Child Mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).
  • The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in actuality.
  • Values less than 10.0 reflect low hunger; values from 10.0 to 19.9 reflect moderate hunger; values from 20.0 to 34.9 indicate serious hunger; values from 35.0 to 49.9 are alarming; and values of 50.0 or more are extremely alarming.

Source: ZEF


  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.
  • It shows that while the world has made gradual progress in reducing hunger on a global scale since 2000, this progress has been uneven. Hunger persists in many countries, and in some instances progress is even being reversed. The GHI highlights where more action is most needed.
  • This year’s report focuses on climate change, an increasingly relevant threat to the world’s hungry and vulnerable people that requires immediate action.

Impact of Climate Change on Food Security

Climate change has direct and indirect negative impacts on food security and hunger through changes in food production and availability, access, quality, utilization, and stability of food systems.

Impacts on Food Production

  • Food production is likely to fall in response to higher temperatures, water scarcity, greater CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, and extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, and floods.
  • .Climate change will also increasingly affect water resources for food production as it alters the rates of precipitation and evaporation as well as groundwater levels. At present, 1.8 billion people - just under one-quarter of the world population—live in water-stressed areas, and this number is expected to grow to about half of the world population by 2030.
  • Climate-related disasters, namely droughts, floods, and storms, account for 80 percent of all internationally reported disasters.

Impacts on Food Access

  • Climate change can affect food prices and consequently food access, impacting badly a major chunk of hunger ridden population around the world.
  • Given the high degree of cross-connectedness between global food systems, more frequent and extreme events in one region have the potential to disrupt the entire global food system.
  • Low-income countries are understandably deeply concerned about their food security and their capacity to adapt to climate change, especially given that low-income countries and vulnerable people cannot easily absorb or adjust to sudden shocks.

Impacts on Food Quality and Nutrition

  • Climate variability can also affect nutrition and food safety in several ways. Climate change may reduce production and thus reduce food availability even further. Alternatively, it may extend the lean season, thus exacerbating the negative effects on people’s nutrition.
  • In addition, climate change can worsen the nutritional value of the food that is cultivated. Higher CO2 concentrations reduce the protein, zinc, and iron content of crops. As a result, by 2050 an estimated additional 175 million people could be deficient in zinc and an additional 122 million people could experience protein deficiencies. These impacts will be felt most keenly by people living in poverty, who depend heavily on plant sources for their nutrition.
  • Climate change will also affect other crops and food sources that are essential for good nutrition and food security.
  • Finally, erratic rainfall and higher temperatures affect the quality and safety of food. Higher rainfall intensity leads mold to grow on field crops, with some strains producing toxins, such as aflatoxins, that can lead to stunting among children.
  • Inadequate post-harvest management practices as the result of changing growing conditions lead not only to loss of food in terms of quantity but to a degradation in quality, including its nutritional value.

Impacts on Food Value Chain

  • A changing climate may worsen food losses in a global food system in which massive amounts of food are already lost or wasted.
  • Given that the current food system contributes 21–37 % of total net anthropogenic emissions, these losses exacerbate climate change without contributing to improved food security or nutrition.
  • It can exacerbate this situation in low- and middle-income countries. Changing rainfall patterns can make crops  more vulnerable to pests and fungal infections, leading to losses in both food quantity and quality.

Way Forward

  • Climate change is affecting the global food system in ways that increase the threats to those who currently already suffer from hunger and under nutrition.
  • In this context, ending hunger and under nutrition demands large-scale action that seeks to address the inequities raised by climate change while staying within planetary boundaries.
  • It requires ambitious leadership showing that an alternative future, including adaptation and mitigation actions on a broad scale, is possible.
  • Global solidarity with the most climate-vulnerable communities and countries must be fostered, and high-income countries must take responsibility for mitigating causes and supporting low- and middle-income countries in adapting to these changes.
  • Furthermore, good governance, capacity building, participatory planning, and downward accountability are essential to help people and institutions negotiate and define measures that are fair and sustainable.
  • Achieving these goals will require a radical transformation that enables changes in both individual and collective behaviors and values and a fairer balance of political, cultural, and institutional power in society for the benefit of the food security and nutrition of all people.