Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nepal betters on its fight against hunger

Nepal has improved in the global hunger index (GHI). But this still gives one lots of food for thought as there is still a long way to go.
It ranks 33rd among serious hunger affected country and 55th in the overall global hunger index (GHI) that has 81 countries reviewed in the current year.
Nepal's score improved and managed to climb one category but is still at the bottom of the serious hunger category from alarming situation. Nonetheless, the country is on a winning path in its fight against hunger.
Nepal's score improved to 19.9 this year from last year's 23, when it was under alarming category. In 1990, the country had a score of 27.1 and 1996 score dropped to 24.6 and in 2010 it further dropped due to improving situation.
The lower the score the better the condition of the hunger in the country, according to International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that calculates the GHI every year, countries with extremely alarming have the score over 30, whereas alarming situation has score between 20 and 29.9, serious falls under score between 10 and 19.9 hunger situation. Similarly, the countries with score under 10 are moderate and under five are ranked under low.
“From food deficit situation a fiscal year ago, the country recorded 4,43,000 metric tonnes (MT) of food grains surplus in the last fiscal years," spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives Hari Dahal said, adding that the situation is improving lately.
The Index is based on three equally weighted indicators; the proportion of undernourished as percentage of the population, the prevalence of underweight in children under the age of five and the under five-mortality rate.
The 2011 GHI report also revealed how the hunger situation has developed since 1990 at global, regional, and national levels. Globally, the GHI fell over one fourth from 19.7 in 1990 to 14.6 in 2011. The global GHI 2010 had been 15.1 in an average. Regardless of the positive trend, the global fight against hunger is not reaching its goals fast enough, the report said, adding that some 29 countries still have an alarming (20-29.9) or extremely alarming (over 30 score) hunger situation.
The global averages hide dramatic differences among regions and countries. The 2010 GHI had fallen by 18 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa compared with the 1990 GHI, by about 25 per cent in South Asia, and by 39 per cent in the Near East and North Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia share the highest regional GHI scores (22.9 and 21.7 respectively), but food insecurity in the two regions stems from different reasons.In South Asia, the major problem is a high prevalence of underweight children under five, which is a result of lower nutrition and educational status of women. In contrast, the high GHI in Sub-Saharan Africa is due to high child mortality rates and the high proportion of people who cannot meet their calorie requirements because of bad governance, conflicts, political instability and high HIV/Aids rates.
The highest regional GHI score can be found in South Asia. After a rapid decrease between 1990 and 1996, the scores have not changed much despote the economic growth over the same period.
"The progress is inhibited by social inequality and the low nutritional, educational and social status of women," the report said, adding that slightly better numbers in Sub-Saharan Africa stem from the end of a several conflicts in in the 1990s and 2000s, economic growth and successes in fighting Aids.
The Index that is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by country and region highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction and provides insights into the drivers of hunger. By raising awareness and understanding of regional and country differences in hunger, the GHI will, it is hoped, trigger actions to reduce hunger.But no one really knows how many people are malnourished. The statistic most frequently cited is that of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, which measures 'undernutrition'.
The most recent estimate, released last October by FAO, revealed that 925 million people are undernourished meaning number of hungry people has increased since 1995-97 due to neglect of agriculture relevant to very poor people by governments and international agencies, the current worldwide economic crisis and the significant increase of food prices in the last several years which has been devastating to those with only a few dollars a day to spend.
The 925 million people is 13.1 per cent of the estimated world population of seven billion in the world meaning almost one in seven people are hungry in the world.The FAO estimate is based on statistical aggregates. It first estimates the total food supply of a country and derives the average per capita daily food intake from that. The distribution of average food intake for people in the country is then estimated from surveys measuring food expenditure.
Using the information, and minimum food energy requirements, FAO estimated how many people are likely to receive such a low level of food intake that they are undernourished.
This year's report focused particularly on the issue of food price spikes and volatility, which have played a large role in the global food crises of 2007–08 and 2010–11. Many poor people already spend large shares of their incomes on food, and surges in food prices leave them unable to pay for the food, healthcare, housing, education, and other goods and services they need.An IFPRI researcher describes the factors that have contributed to the increasing and more volatile food prices of recent years and their effects on poor people in developing countries.
Taming food price spikes and volatility will require that is understood as the causes and address them appropriately.

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