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The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a multidimensional statistical tool used to describe the state of countries’ hunger situation. The GHI measures progress and failures in the global fight against hunger.[1] The GHI is updated once a year.

The Index was adopted and further developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and was first published in 2006 with the Welthungerhilfe, a German non-profit organization (NGO). Since 2007, the Irish NGO Concern Worldwide joined the group as co-publisher.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

The 2012 GHI was calculated for 120 developing countries and countries in transition, 57 of which with a serious or worse hunger situation. In addition to the ranking, the GHI report focuses every year on a main topic: in 2010 the Index highlighted early childhood undernutrition among children younger than the age of two. The GHI 2011 focuses on the rising and more volatile food prices of the recent years and the effects these changes have on hunger and malnutrition.[9] In 2012, the GHI report deals with the question how food security and sustainable use of natural resources can be achieved, when the natural sources of food become scarcer and scarcer: Ensuring sustainable food security under land, water, and energy stresses.[10]

In addition to the yearly GHI, the Hunger Index for the States of India (ISHI) was published in 2008[11] and the Sub-National Hunger Index for Ethiopia was published in 2009.[12]

Calculation of the Index[edit]

The Index ranks countries on a 100 point scale, with 0 being the best score ("no hunger") and 100 being the worst, though neither of these extremes is achieved in practice. The higher the score, the worse the food situation of a country. Values less than 4.9 reflect "low hunger", values between 5 and 9.9 reflect "moderate hunger", values between 10 and 19.9 indicate a "serious", values between 20 and 29.9 are "alarming", and values exceeding 30 are "extremely alarming" hunger problem.

The GHI combines three equally weighted indicators: 1) the proportion of the undernourished as a percentage of the population; 2) the prevalence of underweight children under the age of five; and 3) the mortality rate of children under the age of five.[8]

The data used for the 2012 GHI are for the period from 2005 to 2010 – the most recent available global data for the three components of the GHI. The data on the proportion of undernourished come from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and IFPRI (estimates) are for 2006-2008.[13] Data on underweight of children under 5 are based on data from 2005-2010 collected by the World Health Organization (WHO),[14] UNICEF[15] and MEASURE DHS[16] and also includes estimates by the authors. Data on child mortality are for 2010 from UNICEF.[17] The 2012 GHI, the recalculated base value of the 1990 GHI as well as the values of 1996 and 2001 are not directly comparable to previously calculated GHI values. The values reflect the latest revised data for the three components of the GHI and include estimate where original source data were not available, based on the most recent data available.

Global and regional trends[edit]

Comparing Regional Results for the GHI from 1990 to 2011

The 2012 GHI report shows how the hunger situation has developed since 1990 at global, regional, and national levels. Globally, the GHI fell over one fourth from 19.7 in 1990 to 14.7 in 2012. The global GHI 2011 had been 14.6. Regardless of this positive trend, the global fight against hunger is slowing down. Compared to the period between 1990 and 96 the pace of hunger reduction has slowed down considerably. 19 countries still have an alarming (20-29.9) or extremely alarming (≥ 30) hunger situation. The global averages hide dramatic differences among regions and countries.

Hunger is most prevalent in South Asia: with 22.5 the situation here is alarming. In Sub-Saharan Africa the index equally exceeds 20 and also has to be considered alarming. The lowest value can be found in Eastern Europe, where hunger is not very prevalent. Here, the report shows the biggest improvements together with Southeast Asia and Latin America. In the three regions the GHI decreased by 40% or more since 1990.

Some countries have made great progress in the fight against hunger. Namely, Turkey, Mexico, China, and Ghana. In some countries, on the other hand, the hunger situation worsened. In three countries the hunger situation is extremely alarming: Burundi, Eritrea, and Haiti "lead" the list of hunger countries and point with values beyond 30 to an urgent need for action.


Countries with extremely alarming (GHI ≥ 30), alarming (GHI between 20.0 and 29.9) or serious (GHI between 10.0 and 19.9) hunger situation
Global Hunger Index[8]
Rank Country 1990 1996 2001 2012
1 Dominican Republic 14.2 11.8 10.9 10.0
2 Swaziland 9.3 12.6 12.9 10.9
3 Mauritania 22.6 16.7 16.6 11.1
4 Vietnam 25.6 21.4 15.5 11.2
5 Republic of the Congo 23.6 24.1 15.7 11.4
6 Mongolia 16.5 17.5 14.8 11.7
7 Lesotho 12.6 13.6 13.9 11.9
8 Indonesia 18.5 15.4 14.2 12.0
9 Philippines 19.9 17.6 14.2 12.2
10 Bolivia 16.9 14.3 12.3 12.3
11 Guatemala 15.2 15.8 15.1 12.7
12 Namibia 20.3 19.1 16.3 13.2
13 Botswana 13.4 15.4 15.7 13.7
14 Senegal 18.3 19.6 19.2 13.7
15 Sri Lanka 20.8 18.4 15.2 14.4
16 Benin 21.3 20.1 16.8 14.6
17 Gambia 16.2 20.1 16.3 15.6
18 Nigeria 24.1 20.9 18.2 15.7
19 Tadschikistan 24.1 24.6 15.8
20 Uganda 18.7 20.3 17.3 16.1
21 Mali 27.8 26.3 23.0 16.2
22 Guinea 22.4 20.0 21.6 16.6
23 Malawi 29.9 27.5 22.5 16.7
24 Burkina Faso 23.5 22.4 21.8 17.2
25 Zimbabwe 18.6 22.3 21.3 17.3
26 Cameroon 21.6 22.2 19.0 17.4
27 Ivory Coast 16.5 17.8 16.6 18.2
28 Guinea-Bissau 20.7 20.8 21.4 18.4
29 Liberia 22.7 25.2 25.0 18.9
30 North Korea 15.7 20.1 20.1 19.0
31 Togo 26.4 22.0 23.3 19.0
32 Kenya 20.7 20.8 20.4 19.3
33 Tanzania 23.2 28.0 25.9 19.3
34 Cambodia 31.8 31.5 26.0 19.6
35 Laos 28.6 25.2 23.6 19.7
36 Pakistan 25.5 21.8 21.7 19.7
37 Rwanda 28.2 32.7 25.6 19.7
38 Nepal 26.9 24.4 23.0 20.3
39 Sudan 28.7 24.5 25.9 21.5
40 Djibouti 30.8 25.7 25.3 21.7
41 Niger 36.4 35.9 30.5 22.3
42 Madagascar 24.1 23.8 24.9 22.5
43 India 30.3 22.6 24.2 22.9
44 Mozambique 35.5 30.7 28.8 23.3
45 Zambia 24.8 25.0 27.2 23.3
46 Bangladesh 37.9 36.1 27.8 24.0
47 Angola 41.9 39.9 33.0 24.1
48 Yemen 29.0 27.6 27.9 24.3
49 Sierra Leone 32.7 30.1 30.1 24.7
50 Comoros 22.2 26.9 29.7 25.8
51 Central African Republic 27.4 28.4 27.4 27.3
52 East Timor 26.1 27.3
53 Chad 39.3 35.6 30.4 28.3
54 Ethiopia 42.2 38.6 34.5 28.7
55 Haiti 33.9 32.2 25.8 30.8
56 Eritrea 37.8 37.8 34.4
57 Burundi 31.6 35.9 38.0 37.1

The Global Hunger Index is composed of the proportion of the undernourished as a percentage of the population, the prevalence of underweight children under the age of five and the mortality rate of children under the age of five (calculated average, in percentages).

Focus of the GHI 2012: Pressures on land, water and energy resources[edit]

Increasingly, Hunger is related to how we use land, water and energy. The growing scarcity of these resources puts more and more pressure on food security. Several factors contribute to an increasing shortage of natural resources[GHI2012 1]:

  1. Demographic change: The world population is expected to be over 9 billion by 2050. Additionally, more and more people live in cities. Urban populations feed themselves differently than inhabitants of rural areas; they tend to consume less staple foods and more meat and dairy products.
  2. Higher income and non-sustainable use of resources: As the global economy grows, wealthy people consume more food and goods, which have to be produced with a lot of water and energy. They can afford not to be efficient and wasteful in their use of resources.
  3. Bad policies and weak institutions: When policies, for example energy policy, are not tested for the consequences they have on the availability of land and water it can lead to failures. An example are the biofuel policies of industrialized countries: As corn and sugar are increasingly used for the production of fuels, there is less land and water for the production of food.

Signs for an increasing scarcity of energy, land and water resources are for example: growing prices for food and energy, a massive increase of large-scale investment in arable land (so-called land grabbing), increasing degradation of arable land because of too intensive land use (for example, increasing desertification), increasing number of people, who live in regions with lowering ground water levels, and the loss of arable land as a consequence of climate change. The analysis of the global conditions lead the authors of the GHI 2012 to recommend several policy actions[10]:

  • Securing land and water rights
  • Gradual lowering of subsidies
  • Creation of a positive macroeconomic framework
  • Investment in agriculture technology development to promote a more efficient use of land, water and energy
  • Support for approaches, that lead to a more efficient use of land, water and energy along the whole value chain
  • Preventing and overuse of natural resources through monitoring strategies for water, land and energy, and agricultural systems
  • Improvement of the access to education for women and the strengthening of their reproductive rights to address demographic change
  • Increase incomes, reduce social and economic inequality and promotion of sustainable lifestyles
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation through a reorientation of agriculture

Focus of the 2011 GHI: Rising and volatile food prices[edit]

The report cites 3 factors as the main reasons for high volatility, or price changes, and price spikes of food:

  • Use of the so-called biofuels, promoted by high oil prices, subsidies in the United States (over one third of the corn harvest of 2009 and 2010 respectively) and quota for biofuel in gasoline in the European Union, India and others.
  • Extreme weather events as a result of Climate Change
  • Future trading of agricultural commodities, for instance investments in fonds, which are speculating on price changes of agricultural products (2003: 13 Bn US Dollar, 2008: 260 Bn US Dollar), as well as increasing trade volume of these goods.

Volatility and prices increases are worsened according to the report by the concentration of staple foods in a few countries and export restrictions of these goods, the historical low of worldwide cereal reserves and the lack of timely information on food products, reserves and price developments. Especially this lack of information can lead to overreactions in the markets. Moreover, seasonal limitations on production possibilities, limited land for agricultural production, limited access to fertilizers and water, as well as the increasing demand resulting from population growth, puts pressure on food prices.

According to the Global Hunger Index 2011 price trends show especially harsh consequences for poor and under-nourished people, because they are not capable to react to price spikes and price changes. Reactions, following these developments, can include: reduced calorie intake, no longer sending children to school, riskier income generation such as prostitution, criminality, or searching landfills, and sending away household members, who cannot be fed anymore. In addition, the report sees an alltime high in the instability and unpredictability of food prices, which after decades of slight decrease, increasingly show price spikes (strong and short-term increase).[GHI2011 1][GHI2011 2]

At a national level, especially food importing countries (those with a negative food trade balance, are affected by the changing prices.

Focus of the GHI 2010: Early Childhood Undernutrition[edit]

Undernutrition among children has reached terrible levels. About 195 million children under the age of five in the developing world – about one in three children - are too small and thus underdeveloped. Nearly one in four children under age five – 129 million – is underweight, and one in 10 is severely underweight. The problem of child undernutrition is concentrated in a few countries and regions with more than 90 percent of stunted children living in Africa and Asia. 42% of the world’s undernourished children live in India alone.

The evidence presented in the report[18] [19] shows that the window of opportunity for improving nutrition spans is the 1,000 days between conception and a child’s second birthday (that is the period from -9 to +24 months). Children who are do not receive adequate nutrition during this period have increased risks to experiencing lifelong damage, including poor physical and cognitive development, poor health, and even early death. The consequences of malnutrition that occurred after 24 months of a child's life are by contrast largely reversible.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Global hunger worsening, warns UN". BBC (Europe). 14 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  2. ^ IFPRI/ Welthungerhilfe: The Challenge of Hunger − Global Hunger Index: Facts, determinants, and trends. Case studies of post conflict countries of Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. Bonn, October 2006.
  3. ^ IFPRI/ Concern/ Welthungerhilfe: The Challenge of Hunger 2007 − Global Hunger Index: Facts, determinants, and trends 2007. Measures being taken to reduce acute undernourishment and chronic hunger. Bonn, October 2007.
  4. ^ IFPRI/ Concern/ Welthungerhilfe: Global Hunger Index − The Challenge of Hunger 2008. Bonn, Washington D.C., Dublin. October 2008.
  5. ^ IFPRI/ Concern/ Welthungerhilfe: 2009 Global Hunger Index − The Challenge of Hunger: Focus on Financial Crisis and Gender Inequality. Bonn, Washington D. C., Dublin. October 2009.
  6. ^ a b IFPRI/ Concern/ Welthungerhilfe: 2010 Global Hunger Index The challenge of hunger: Focus on the crisis of child undernutrition. Bonn, Washington D. C., Dublin. October 2011.
  7. ^ IFPRI/ Concern/ Welthungerhilfe: 2011 Global Hunger Index - The challenge of hunger: Taming Price Spikes and Excessive Food Price Volatility. Bonn, Washington D. C., Dublin. October 2011.
  8. ^ a b c IFPRI/ Concern/ Welthungerhilfe: 2012 Global Hunger Index - The challenge of hunger: Ensuring sustainable food security under land, water, and energy stresses. Bonn, Washington D. C., Dublin. October 2012.
  9. ^ IFPRI/ Welthungerhilfe/ Concern. 2011. 2011 Global Hunger Index. Issue Brief No. 69. Washington, DC
  10. ^ a b IFPRI/ Welthungerhilfe/ Concern. 2012. 2012 Global Hunger Index. Issue Brief No. 70. Washington, DC
  11. ^ Menon, Purnima / Deolalikar, Anil / Bhaskar, Anjor: India State Hunger Index (2009): Comparison of Hunger Across States
  12. ^ Schmidt, Emily / Dorosh, Paul (October 2009): A Sub-National Index for Ethiopia: Assessing Progress in Region-Level Outcomes. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI): ESSP-II Discussion Paper 5
  13. ^ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2011. Food Security Data and Definitions. Rome.
  14. ^ WHO (World Health Organization). 2012. Global database on child growth and malnutrition. Genf.
  15. ^ UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). Childinfo statistics on child nutrition. New York.
  16. ^ MEASURE DHS. 2012. Demographic and Health Surveys. Calverton, USA.
  17. ^ UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2012. The State of the World's Children 2012: Children in an Urban World. New York.
  18. ^ Victora, C. G., L. Adair, C. Fall, P. C. Hallal, R. Martorell, L. Richter und H. Singh Sachdev für die Maternal and Child Undernutrition Study Group. 2008. Maternal and child undernutrition: Consequences for adult health and human capital. The Lancet 371 (9609): 340–57
  19. ^ Victora, C. G., M. de Onis, P. C. Hallal, M. Blössner und R. Shrimpton. 2010. Worldwide timing of growth faltering: Revisiting implications for interventions. Pediatrics 125 (3): 473.
  20. ^ "How are we doing on poverty and hunger reduction? A new measure of country performance" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-02. 

Klaus von Grebmer, Maximo Torero, Tolulope Olofinbiyi, Heidi Fritschel, Doris Wiesmann, Yisehac Yohannes (IFPRI); Lilly Schofield, Constanze von Oppeln (Concern Worldwide und Welthungerhilfe): 2011 Global Hunger Index - The challenge of hunger: Taming Price Spikes and Excessive Food Price Volatility. Bonn, Washington D. C., Dublin. October 2011.

  1. ^ Chapter 3: Combating Hunger in a World of High and Volatile Food Prices
  2. ^ Chapter 4: The Impacts of Food Price Spikes and Volatility at Local Levels, pages 20–41

Klaus von Grebmer, Claudia Ringler, Mark W. Rosegrant, Tolulope Olofinbiyi, Doris Wiesmann, Heidi Fritschel, Ousmane Badiane, Maximo Torero, Yisehac Yohannes (IFPRI); Jennifer Thompson (Concern Worldwide); Constanze von Oppeln, Joseph Rahall (Welthungerhilfe and Green Scenery): 2012 Global Hunger Index - The challenge of hunger: Ensuring sustainable food security under land, water, and energy stresses. Washington, DC. October 2012.

  1. ^ Chapter 3: 'Sustainable food security under land, water, and energy stresses', pages 25-26

Further reading[edit]

  • Alkire, S. und M. E. Santos. 2010. Multidimensional Poverty Index: 2010 data. Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. .
  • Wiesmann, Doris (2004): An international nutrition index: concept and analyses of food insecurity and undernutrition at country levels. Development Economics and Policy Series 39. Peter Lang Verlag.

External links[edit]