Global Hunger Index: FEED Data

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Oct 16 2014, 08:27am hrs
A lesser proportion of Indians are malnourished now compared to last year, as per the International Food Policy Research Institutes (IFPRI) Global Hunger Index (GHI). Indias index fell from 21.3 from the last time to 17.8 in the latest rankings. A rather dramatic reduction in the proportion of malnourished children under the age of five years in Indiafrom 43.5% in 2005 to 30.7 % in 2012is chiefly responsible for India improving its showing. While this should be reason for cheer, the findings are undermined by the weakness of the Unicef data that the IFPRI uses. The Unicef data (2005-2012) registers a greater acceleration in the fall as compared to the trend reflected by NFHS data between 1990 and 2005, a period of high economic growth and faster poverty reduction.

Despite the improved index, India still compares poorly to African nations like Ghana and Suriname and its neighbours, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Why, when we are a grains-sufficient nationon October 1, against a buffer requirement of 21.2 million tonnes of rice and wheat, we had

52.44 million tonnes in the public stockhave we not been able to beat hunger After all, even with a 30% loss due to pilferage and storage & transport losses in the PDS, there is enough grain to feed the hungry. The answers are many but the most pertinent one could be the link between poor sanitation and malnutritionPrinceton University researcher Dean Spears found that open defecation was one of the factors responsible for stunting in Indian children. Many pathogens transmitted, through contaminated food or water, cause diseases characterised by nutrient loss or poor nutrient absorption. With 53% of Indian households without access to sanitary toilet facilities, it isnt surprising that malnourishment rates are so high. Perhaps, it is a better idea to fix sanitation to end hunger.