The 2013 Global Hunger Index

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The Global Hunger Index is a measuring tool used to assess the state of hunger in the world using country-level data.

HUNGER DOWN. The United Nations says world hunger rates has dropped to one in 8 people. In this photo, Filipino street children take a meal at a street in Parañaque, Philippines, 15 August 2013. EPA/Francis R Malasig

MANILA, Philippines – Global hunger has generally declined since the 1990s, a glimmer of hope that could make the Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger by half before 2015 even more possible. However, progress is not equally and simultaneously shared, and the struggle for most countries to sustain food security is far from over.

The reality is that some countries suffer higher and more alarming degrees of hunger and malnutrition compared to others. As in a race, countries running towards the hunger reduction finish line can be fast or slow, strong or weak, with varying levels and rates of progress. Hunger is still a severe problem for many countries.

In October 2013, the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide published a report on the Global Hunger Index (GHI), which has been used to assess, measure and map global hunger using collated country-level statistics. The report, 8th in an annual publication series, also called for better strategies in building resilience among poor and vulnerable communities to improve food security.

The report revealed, among many key findings, that about 19 countries still have “alarming” and “extremely alarming” situations of hunger. This does not include several countries that still have a “serious” state of hunger. Highest levels of hunger were found in South Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries.  

The graphic below maps global hunger by indicating the GHI for each country. Countries are in varying shades depending on the degree of hunger assessed for each area. Mouse over a country to see the specific GHI score, along with data related to the key components.

The GHI is calculated based on 3 key components:

  • Undernourishment – percentage of undernourished people to the total population. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this refers to the consumption of less than 1,800 kilocalories – the average required intake for a healthy life.

  • Child underweight – share of children less than 5 years old who are underweight.

  • Child mortality – mortality rate of children less than 5 years old.

What does the report generally tell us? There is considerable progress being made every year, but it is no reason to slow down. Efforts to develop food security and reduce hunger have to continue for the long haul, not just for some countries – but for all.

GHI: Focus on the Philippines

The GHI report showed that hunger in the Philippines has declined over the years — from 19.9 in 1990, 17.4 in 1995, 17.7 in 2000 and 14.0 in 2005. However, it remains a “serious” problem, with the most recent score at 13.2 as of 2013.

Despite a downward trend, the Philippines is still no. 28 in the GHI rank, following several other countries with reported scores higher than 5.0 (Albania was ranked no. 1 with a GHI of 5.2, while Burundi was ranked last at no. 78, with a GHI of 38.8).

Data on key components also showed that between 2008 to 2012, the share of children less than age 5 who were underweight was 20.2, about a fifth of the total.

Meanwhile, under-five mortality was reported at 2.5% as of 2011. Between 2010 to 2012, undernourished Filipinos accounted for about 17% of the total population (which as of the 2010 census was at 92.34 million). –

Note: The most recent GHI scores covered country-specific data from 2008 to 2012, depending on availability. Scores were calculated for some 120 countries. GHI scores are regularly collected, compiled and updated by United Nations agencies. A complete data set on hunger-related statistics has been difficult to complete due to “time lags” in data reporting. Some countries do not have enough data and so GHI scores could not be generated. Other high-income countries were not included in the report because of low hunger prevalence.

Sources: International Food Policy Research Institute, Global Hunger Index – The Challenge of Hunger: Ensuring Sustainable Food Security Under Land, Water and Energy Stresses; National Statistics Office, Population and Housing


Visit #HungerProject for stories on efforts to stop hunger in the Philippines and around the world. 

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