India has slipped to 107th position in the Global Hunger Index 2020, which ranked the performance of 121 countries across the world.
In 2021, India was ranked 101 out of 116 countries, while in 2020 the country was placed in 94th position in the Global Hunger Index, which is jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
India’s child wasting rate, highest in the world
According to GHI 2022, India’s child wasting rate is 19.3 per cent, the highest in the world.
With a score of 29.1, the level of hunger in India has been labelled “serious”.
“India’s child wasting rate, at 19.3 percent, is the highest of any country in the world and drives up the region’s average owing to India’s large population,” it said.
Undernourishment on the rise
Undernourishment prevalence rose in India from 14.6 per cent in 2018-2020 to 16.3 per cent in 2019-2021. This translates into 224.3 million people in India being undernourished out of a total of 828 million people globally.
Child wasting, which is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five years of age, also worsened from 15.1 per cent in 2012-16 to 19.3 per cent in 2017-21.
South Asia has world’s highest hunger level
The report said South Asia, the region with the world’s highest hunger level, has the highest child stunting rate and by far the highest child wasting rate in the world.
In Asia, Afghanistan, with a rank of 109, is the only country behind India.
Neighbouring countries-Pakistan (99), Bangladesh (84), Nepal (81) and Sri Lanka (64)-have all fared better than India.
Stunting disparities in India
The GHI said stunting disparities between districts were particularly pronounced in India.
“The example of India shows the importance of considering the subnational context when designing programs and policies to target child stunting. Researchers investigated the factors that contributed to a decline in stunting in four Indian states between 2006 and 2016: Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu,” it said.
The report said the researchers found that stunting fell mainly in response to improvements in the coverage of health and nutrition interventions, household conditions (such as socioeconomic status and food security), and maternal factors (such as mothers’ health and education).
“While improvements in household conditions were the most important factor for each of the four states, the second most important factor varied by state. As the authors conclude, this variability across states indicates the need for contextualised policy and programmatic initiatives to help focus the efforts in the sectors that need the most attention for continued decline in stunting,” it said.
In 2021, the government had rejected India’s poor ranking and had criticised the methodology as unscientific and devoid of reality.
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