15.10.2018 |

Accelerated progress needed to achieve zero hunger, report

Progress in the fight against hunger has been too slow (Photo: CC0)

Progress in the fight against hunger and undernutrition has been too slow and uneven. Levels of hunger are still serious or alarming in 51 countries across the globe – and forced migration is closely associated with food insecurity. This is the message of the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide. Since 2000, the index scores related to hunger have fallen by 28% and child mortality rates were halved. However, the number of hungry people increased to 821 million in 2017. Around 124 million people are suffering from acute hunger, a striking increase from 80 million two years ago. This demonstrates that the current trend is heading into the wrong direction. If progress in reducing hunger and undernutrition continues on its current trajectory, an estimated 50 countries will not succeed in eliminating hunger by 2030, says the report, calling for renewed efforts in the fight against hunger.

The GHI captures three dimensions of hunger – insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition (wasting and stunting) and child mortality. It ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best and 100 being the worst score. The GHI Severity Scale includes low hunger (below 10), moderate hunger (10.0 to 19.9), serious hunger (20.0 to 34.9), alarming levels (35.0 to 49.9) and extremely alarming levels (more than 50). “The 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI) indicates that the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide falls into the serious category, at a value of 20.9, down from 29.2 in 2000,” says the report. “Despite these improvements, the question remains whether the world will achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which aims to end hunger, ensure food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, by 2030.” Only 40 out of 119 countries that were ranked have low levels of hunger – at the current rate of progress, only 29 of the 79 countries with moderate to extremely alarming levels will succeed in achieving low hunger by 2030.

According to the 2018 GHI, hunger levels are extremely alarming in the Central African Republic. Since 2012, the country has been suffering from instability, sectarian violence and civil war. Six countries have alarming hunger levels (Chad, Haiti, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Yemen, and Zambia). In 45 countries, the index indicates serious levels of hunger, among them Sudan, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste. GHI scores for several countries could not be calculated because data were not available for all four indicators. Yet the hunger and undernutrition situations in seven of these countries - Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria - are identified as cause for significant concern. In contrast, Angola, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Myanmar are the frontrunners in 2018 with an improvement in GHI scores of more than 45%.

The 2018 report shows that hunger is both a cause for and a result of flight and displacement. In countries experiencing armed conflicts, rates of hunger are twice as high as in the rest of the world. “There are an estimated 68.5 million displaced people worldwide, including 40.0 million internally displaced people, 25.4 million refugees, and 3.1 million asylum seekers. Hunger is a persistent danger that threatens the lives of large numbers of forcibly displaced people and influences their decisions about when and where to move,” writes guest author Laura Hammond from the University of London. She points out that there are common misperceptions regarding the interplay between hunger and forced migration that continue to influence policy. Hunger is often understood as a result of environmental or natural causes. In fact, hunger, like displacement, is usually the result of political circumstances. She argues that natural disasters only lead to hunger and displacement when governments are unprepared or unwilling to respond. In addition, the world’s response to forced migration is almost always to undertake short-term humanitarian action in the hope that displaced people will be able to return to their areas of origin before long. Instead, most forced migration is protracted, lasting for many years or even generations.

The authors stress that food-insecure displaced people need support in their region of origin. “Most refugees remain in their native regions,” says Bärbel Dieckmann, President of Welthungerhilfe. “Refugees require not only basic social services but also access to education and employment. Humanitarian assistance alone is not enough,” she adds. The reports calls for a more holistic response that focuses on supporting people’s livelihoods in their regions of origin and bolstering resilience in ways that support local markets and strengthen livelihood systems. “Hunger and forced migration are painful realities for millions, but this state of affairs has yet to spur the kind of political leadership and action by national governments that is so urgently needed. More worryingly, we are seeing the issue of migration become a lightning rod for new political discourse that is increasingly more hard-line than humanitarian,” the publishers write in the foreword to the report. “This year’s GHI is not just a renewed call to action on hunger and forced migration but an urgent call for a resurgence of humanity in how we address the shocking truth that – in a world of plenty – millions of people’s human rights continue to be violated and these people still go to bed hungry each night.” (ab)

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Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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