Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021


    In News

    • India has slipped to the 101st position among 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 from its 2020 ranking (94).

    Key Points

    • Global
      • Facts: A total of 18 countries, including China, Kuwait and Brazil, shared the top rank with a GHI score of less than five.
        • Africa, South of the Sahara and South Asia are the world regions where hunger levels are highest.
        • Drawing on data from 2016–2020, hunger is considered extremely alarming in one country (Somalia), alarming in 9 countries, and serious in 37 countries.
      • Behind Zero Hunger Goal: Based on the current GHI projections, the world as a whole — and 47 countries in particular — will fail to achieve even a low level of hunger by 2030.
      • Assault on Food Security: Worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are all driving hunger.
      • Reducing Efforts: After decades of decline, the global prevalence of undernourishment is increasing. This shift may be a leading indicator of reversals in other measures of hunger.
      • Slow Progress:
        • Although GHI scores show that global hunger has been on the decline since 2000, progress is slowing. 
        • While the GHI score for the world fell 4.7 points, from 25.1 to 20.4, between 2006 and 2012, it has fallen just 2.5 points since 2012. 

    Image Courtesy: TH

    • Indian Scenario
      • Serious Level: With a score of 27.5, India has a level of hunger that is serious.
      • Lagging Behind Neighbours: India was also behind most of the neighbouring countries. Pakistan was placed at 92, Nepal and Bangladesh at 76 and Sri Lanka at 65.
      • Declining Score: In fact, India’s score on the GHI in the recent two decades has declined by 10 points. It slipped to 28.8 in 2021, from 38.8 in 2000.
      • Poor Indicators:
        • Globally, India ranked among the worst in ‘child wasting’ or ‘weight for height’. Its performance was worse than Djibouti and Somalia.  
        • Some 17.3 per cent of children under five years of age in India were stunted during 2016-2020. This was an increase of 15.1 per cent from 2010-2014.
        • However, India had progressed on other indicators including undernutrition, child stunting and child mortality.
        • India has shown promise over the past decade in reducing maternal and child mortality. But, much more needed to be done. 


    Response from Government of India

    • Unscientific Methodology: The Government of India challenged India’s poor ranking in the Global Hunger Index 2021 and the methodology used by FAO calling it “devoid of ground reality and facts”.
    • Four-question Opinion Poll: They have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup.
    • Incorrect Data on Undernourished: The Government has questioned the poll-based assessment that “has increased the value of ‘proportion of population undernourished’ from 14.0% for the previous period 2017-19 to 15.3% for the latest period 2018-20.
      • The Government has contested the performance of these neighbouring countries on the Index.
    • Ignored Initiatives: The Global Hunger Report 2021 and FAO report on ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021’ have completely ignored the facts available in the public domain.

    About Global Hunger Index (GHI)

    • Developed by: A peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
    • Aim: To trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.
    • Purpose: A tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. 
    • Objectives: 
      • designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, 
      • provides a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and 
      • call attention to those areas of the world where hunger levels are highest and where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest.
    • Assembling the GHI:  The GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. The values are determined for four indicators:
    1. UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient);
    2. CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
    3. CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and
    4. CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

    Composition of the Global Hunger Index (Image Courtesy: GHI)

    • Scoring: Based on the values of the four indicators, the GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. The GHI Severity Scale shows the severity of hunger—from low to extremely alarming.



    ≤ 9.9








    ≥ 50.0

    Extremely Alarming

    COVID-19 and Nutrition

    • The pandemic is worsening malnutrition not only through food insecurity but also through reductions in health care use, immunization, treatment of malnutrition, and antenatal care.
    • The effects of the pandemic on child malnutrition have not yet been comprehensively measured given barriers to collecting anthropometric data, but estimates suggest sizable impacts. 
    • Child mortality is predicted to increase as a result of the pandemic, primarily due to the indirect effects of COVID-19.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening food security, with the full scope of the impacts still not fully known.

     Hunger and Food Systems in Conflict Settings: Way Ahead

    • The two-way links between conflict and increased food insecurity and between peace and sustainable food security are unique to each case and often complex.
    • To integrate a peace-building lens into the creation of resilient food systems and a food security lens into peacebuilding, the report proposes four priorities:
      • a flexible and agile approach that reflects local perceptions, aspirations, and concerns;
      • an emphasis on working in partnerships that bring together local, national, and international actors, with their diverse knowledge;
      • integrative work through hubs that convene key actors and build coalitions inclusive enough to advance peace and food security; and
      • commitment by major donors to get funds out of separate silos and focus them on integrative work.

    India’s Step in Ensuring Food Security

    • National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013:
      • It was enacted in July 2013 which gives legal entitlement to 67% of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas) to receive highly subsidized foodgrains.
    • National Food Security Mission:
      • It was launched in 2007-08  by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
      • It focuses on the sustainable increase in the production of targeted crops through area expansion and productivity enhancement.
    • PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY):
      • The Department of Food & Public Distribution started the implementation of “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY)” for three months i.e. April, May and June 2020 and had been extended for five more months.
      • It is a scheme as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat to supply free food grains to migrants and the poor.
      • Under the scheme, five kgs of wheat or rice and one kg of pulses per month will be given free of cost to the poor.
      • It aimed to ensure sufficient foods for the poor and needy amid the coronavirus crisis.
    • One Nation One Ration Card:
      • It was rolled out by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in 2019 in 4 states on a pilot basis.
      • Aim: To ensure hassle-free delivery of subsidized food grains to all migratory beneficiaries anywhere in the country through nationwide portability under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
      • To empower all National Food Security Act migrant beneficiaries to access foodgrains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice anywhere in the country by using their same/existing ration card with biometric authentication.
    • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi:
      • It is a Central Sector Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme. 
      • It was launched in February 2019 (made effective from December 2018) to give income support to farmers.
      • The scheme is meant to aid farmers partially to meet the expenses on fertilisers and seeds before the sowing season.
      • The financial assistance of Rs. 6000 per annum is provided to all landholding farmer families across the country, subject to certain exclusion criteria relating to higher income strata, e.g. all Institutional Landholders.


    Concern Worldwide

    • It is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries.
    • It works with the world’s poorest people to transform their lives. 
    • It is an Irish aid agency.

    Welt Hunger Hilfe 

    • It is one of the largest private aid organisations in Germany, independent of politics and religion. 
    • It was established in 1962, as the German section of the “Freedom from Hunger Campaign“.

    Sources of Data

    • Undernourishment data are provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
    • hild mortality data are sourced from the U.N. Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME). 
    • Child wasting and stunting data are drawn from the joint database of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank (WB), among others.

    State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021

    • It is an FAO report.
    • It stated that the other four countries of this region – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, have not been affected at all by the Covid-19 pandemic induced loss of job/business and reduction in income levels.
    • Rather they have been able to improve their position on the indicator ‘proportion of undernourished population’ by 4.3%, 3.3%, 1.3% and 0.8% points respectively during the period 2018-20 over 2017-19.

    Sources: TH + DTE + PIB