New global index ranks Rwanda high in hunger reduction

Rwanda is one of the countries that have made big strides in hunger reduction since 2000, according to the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report released on Tuesday this week.

The report that is released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) annually 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.

The 2016 GHI report is the eleventh in an annual series presented in a multidimensional measure of national, regional, and global hunger.According to the report, Rwanda, Myanmar and Cambodia are three countries that have seen the largest reductions of hunger ever since they were categorised among those in alarming hunger situation in 2000.

“Since 2000, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Myanmar, have seen the largest percentage reductions in hunger of all the countries categorised as serious or alarming, with 2016 GHI scores down by just over 50 per cent relative to the 2000 scores in each country. Each of these three countries has experienced civil war and political instability in recent decades, and the improvements may in part reflect increased stability,” reads the report in part.

The hunger index for Rwanda shrunk from 58.7 in 2000 down to 27.4 in 2016, according to the report.

To capture the multidimensional nature of hunger, GHI scores are based on four indicators: undernourishment-the proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population (reflecting the share of the population with insufficient caloric intake); child wasting- the proportion of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting- the proportion of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality- the mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

The report showed that in Rwanda, child mortality and child wasting saw the biggest reductions, decreasing by approximately 75 per cent each; the prevalence of undernourishment fell by nearly half; and stunting only went down by 20 per cent.

Looking at the big picture, the report showed that the world has made progress in reducing hunger since 2000.

Data from the report also shows that hunger levels in developing countries have fallen 29 percent since 2000, but efforts to curb hunger must be accelerated in order to meet an international target to eradicate it by 2030.

Hunger levels are “alarming” in seven countries, with Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Zambia experiencing the worst levels, according to the 2016 Global Hunger Index. Haiti, reeling from last week’s Hurricane Matthew and still recovering from a massive 2010 earthquake, has the fourth highest hunger score.

Another 43 countries, including India, Nigeria and Indonesia, have “serious” hunger levels.

At the current rate of decline, more than 45 countries – including India, Pakistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Afghanistan – will have “moderate” to “alarming” hunger scores in the year 2030, the authors of the index said.”

Due to insufficient data, 2016 GHI scores could not be calculated for 13 countries; however, based on available data, as well as the available information from international organizations that specialise in hunger and malnutrition, and the existing literature, 10 of these countries are identified as cause for significant concern: Burundi, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

In this year’s essay, David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, presented a new plan for transformative development. 

In it, recommendations were issued to countries focused on four areas: whole-of-government commitment to Zero Hunger, transformation of food systems, inclusion and participation of all members of society, and rigorous monitoring to hold international organisations and national governments to account.

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