- With over 21 per cent of children wasted-low weight for height, India has been ranked 100th among 119 developing countries on the Global Hunger Index (GHI), behind North Korea, Bangladesh and even Nepal.
Here are top reasons for India’s slump in the scores:
- India was ranked 97th last year. The country’s hunger problem is driven by high child malnutrition, and underlines the need for stronger commitment to the social sector, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said in its report.
- According to the report, India’s wasting rate hasn’t substantially improved over the last 25 years, even though the child stunting rate (reduced growth rate in human development) has improved over this period. Wasting (low weight for height) rate, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. The rate is usually the result of acute significant food shortage or disease. Meanwhile, Purnima Menon, Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI, said that child wasting reflects acute under-nutrition caused by prolonged period of poor diet, repeated illnesses, and poor sanitation. “The improvement on the child stunting rate shows that children are born in a better condition than before. The high wasting rate, however, shows neglect in the first two years in terms of infant feeding, sanitation, and overall environment.
AVAILABILITY OF FOOD
- The availability of solid food with breast milk for young children (when they transition from exclusive breastfeeding) declined from 52.7 per cent to 42.7 per cent.
- The proportion of children between six and 23 months who received an adequate diet was 9.6 per cent.
- No more than 48.4 per cent of households had access to improved sanitation facilities; sanitation is an important factor in improving nutrition.
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS YET TO ACHIEVE TARGET
- The IFPRI report, citing from Menon’s research, points out that while India claimed a “massive scale-up” of two national nutrition programmes, the Integrated Child Development Services and the National Health Mission but these have yet to achieve adequate coverage.
INDIA BETTER THAN PAKISTAN
- India ties with Djibouti and Rwanda for the 100th rank, and with a score of 31.4 of 100 (with 0 being best and 100 the worst) but its neighbours in South Asia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are doing better than India. Only Pakistan and Afghanistan are doing worse than India.
THE RISE OF NEPAL
- Nepal’s GHI score was also in the alarming category in 2000, but has now ranks 72 (in the serious category), verging on moderate rise, IFPRI said in the report.
HOW NEPAL COUNTERED HUNGER PROBLEM
- Nepal’s remarkable reduction in child stunting between 2001 and 2011 is associated with, and likely attributable to, increased household assets (a proxy for household wealth), increased maternal education levels, improved sanitation levels, and implementation and utilisation of health and nutrition programs, including antenatal and neonatal care.