Context: India has ranked 102 out of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019 that is placed at much below to its South Asian neighbours such as NepalBangladeshPakistan The Global Hunger Index report is prepared and published jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfewas.  Key Highlights of the 2019 Report Comprehensively, the number of hungry people has risen from 785 million in 2015 to 822 million. Multiple countries have higher hunger levels now as compared to that in 2010.


At the regional level, South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara have the highest 2019 GHI scores in the world, at 29.3 and 28.4, respectively. In case of 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. The four countries with alarming levels of hunger are Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia. Following data came to light when countries are compared on the basis of the indicators used to find the GHI Scores:

  • Haiti, Zimbabwe, and the Central African Republic have the highest rates of undernourishment, ranging between 49.3-59.6%.
  • Stunting rates are highest in Madagascar, Burundi, and Yemen, where data or estimates show that more than half of all children under five suffer from stunting.
  • Wasting is most prevalent in YemenDjibouti, and India, ranging from 17.9 to 20.8 %.
  • The highest under-five mortality rates are in the Central African Republic (12.2%), Chad (12.3%), and Somalia (12.7%).

India Specific

India is ranked 102nd among the 117 countries  in the 2019 Index. India was pegged at 103 in 2018 but then 119 countries were mapped. India falls in the “serious” category with an overall score of 30.3. Further, India has the highest percentage of children who suffer from acute undernutrition. On other parameters, where India has improved, the pace has been relatively slow. Among its  BRICS counterparts, India is ranked the worst, with China at 25 and a score of just 6.5. India is behind every other country within South Asia too.  For example, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan (in that order) are all ahead of India. What is Global Hunger Index? It is basically a tool which is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. Every year, GHI scores are calculated to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. The GHI scores are based on a formula that captures 3 dimensions of hunger i.e., insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition, and child mortality, by using 4 component indicators:

  • UNDERNOURISHMENT: The share of the population that is undernourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake.
  • CHILD WASTING: The share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height), reflecting acute under-nutrition.
  • CHILD STUNTING: The share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition.
  • CHILD MORTALITY: The mortality rate of children under the age of five.

The data on these indicators is collected from the following sources:

  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 
  • World Health Organization(WHO), 
  • UNICEF, 
  • World Bank, 
  • Demographic and Health Surveys(DHS), and
  • United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME). 

How GHI ranks countries? Each country’s data are standardised on a 100-point scale and a final score is calculated after giving 33.33% weight each to components 1 and 4, and giving 16.66% weight each to components 2 and 3 On this 100-point-sclae of GHI, 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in actuality. Further it could be understood as follows:

  • 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;  
  • Values of 50.0 or more are extremely alarming.

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