Nigeria among countries at risk of famine in recent Global Hunger Index

Nigeria among countries at risk of famine in recent Global Hunger Index

Despite the progress recorded in reducing hunger in the world, recent report shows that countries like Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia are at risk of severe hunger in certain areas.

According to 2017 Global Hunger Index scores, the level of hunger in the world has decreased by 27 percent from the 2000 level. Of the 119 countries assessed in this year’s report, one falls in the extremely alarming range on the GHI Severity Scale; 7 fall in the alarming range; 44 in the serious range; and 24 in the moderate range. Only 43 countries have scores in the low range.

In addition, 9 of the 13 countries that lack sufficient data for calculating 2017 GHI scores still raise significant concern, including Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria.

In northeast Nigeria, it is said that around 4.5 million people are experiencing or are at risk of famine while the rest of the country is relatively food secure.

To capture the multidimensional nature of hunger, GHI scores are based on four component indicators—undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality. The 27 percent improvement noted above reflects progress in each of these indicators according to the latest data from 2012–2016 for countries in the GHI:

•The share of the overall population that is undernourished is 13.0 percent, down from 18.2 percent in 2000.
•27.8 percent of children under five are stunted, down from 37.7 percent in 2000.
•9.5 percent of children under five are wasted, down from 9.9 percent in 2000.
•The under-five mortality rate is 4.7 percent, down from 8.2 percent in 2000.

Regional Scores

The regions of the world struggling most with hunger are South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, with scores in the serious range (30.9 and 29.4, respectively). The scores of East and Southeast Asia, the Near East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States range from low to moderate (between 7.8 and 12.8). These averages conceal some troubling results within each region, however, including scores in the serious range for Tajikistan, Guatemala, Haiti, and Iraq and in the alarming range for Yemen, as well as scores in the serious range for half of all countries in East and Southeast Asia, whose average benefits from China’s low score of 7.5.

National and Subnational Scores

Eight countries suffer from extremely alarming or alarming levels of hunger. Except for Yemen, all are in Africa south of the Sahara: Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Liberia, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Zambia. Many of these countries have experienced political crises or violent conflicts in the past several decades. CAR and Yemen, in particular, have been riven by war in recent years. From the 2000 GHI to the 2017 GHI, the scores of 14 countries improved by 50 percent or more; those of 72 countries dropped by between 25 and 49.9 percent; and those of 27 countries fell by less than 25 percent. Only CAR, the sole country in the extremely alarming range, showed no progress.

This year’s report provides a look at subnational-level data on stunting, which reveal great disparities within countries. Differences in hunger and nutrition profiles mean that, in most countries, a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling hunger and undernutrition is unlikely to yield the best results. Region- or state-level data, together with other information—for example, from focus group interviews—can serve as a solid foundation for good program and policy design. Within countries in all regions of the world are wide variations in subnational-level rates of childhood stunting. Even in some countries with a low national average, there are places where childhood stunting levels are high.

Inequality, Power, and Hunger

In this year’s essay, Naomi Hossain, research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, explores the nexus of inequality, power, and hunger. Most often, it is the people or groups with the least social, economic, or political power—those who are discriminated against or disadvantaged, including women, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, rural dwellers, and the poor—who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. They are affected by food and agricultural policies, but have little voice in policy debates dominated by governments, corporations, and international organizations. Analyzing the role that power plays in creating such inequalities in the food system and allowing space for all citizens—especially the least advantaged—to participate in decision making will help address nutritional inequalities.

The 2017 Global Hunger Index therefore presents recommendations that aim to redress such power imbalances, as well as the laws, policies, attitudes, and practices that exacerbate and perpetuate them, in order to alleviate hunger among the most vulnerable. National governments, the private sector, civil society, and international organizations must all act now to reduce inequalities if Zero Hunger is to be reached by 2030.