Monday, December 14, 2015

Top global report praises UPA govt effort in 2005-14 to reduce hunger, after bringing in major policy changes

By Our Representative
Even as ranking India 80th in Global Hunger Index (GHI) among 104 developing countries, a new study, carried out by a group of research organizations led by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says that the country’s has been able to successfully fight against child undernutrition in India after 2005.
Giving full mark to the Government of India (GoI) rulers of the period till 2014, the report – which has been prepared in coordination with Concern Worldwide, Welthungerhilfe (Bonn) and World Peace Foundation (Dublin) – says that in India, “wasting in children fell from 20 per cent to 15 per cent between 2005–2006 and 2013–2014, and stunting fell from 48 percent to 39 percent.”
The study is based on a calculation of four indicators: percentage of the population that is undernourished, of children under five years old who suffer from wasting (low weight for height), of children under five years old who suffer from stunting (low height for age), and of children who die before the age of five (child mortality).
The calculation results in “GHI scores on a 100-point scale where 0 is the best score (no hunger) and 100 the worst” the study says, adding, “Across regions and countries, GHI scores vary considerably.” India’s GHI was 48.1 in 1990, reduced to 42.3 in 1995, slightly came down to 38.2 in 2000, then increased to 38.5, and went down to 29.0 in 2015.
The best GHI score is of Kuwait – just 5.0 – and the worst is that of the Central African Republic, 46.9. While Pakistan, with a GHI score of 33.9, ranks 93rd, one of the worst in the world, Bangladesh, with a GHI score of 27.3, is a little better than India, ranking 73rd.
Despite India's improvement, South Asia's performance is worst among all world regions
Among the BRICS countries, which India considers as its main competitors, Russia’s GHI score is 6.6, ranking 11th. Brazil is found to be much better than all the 104 countries with a GHI score of less than 5.0 and has not been included the list. As for China, it ranks No 21 with a GHI score of 8.6, and South Africa with a score of 12.4 ranks No 38th.
The study believes, the improvement in India has happened because the GoI during 2005 and 2014 “scaled up nutrition-specific interventions over the past decade”, including
  • “a final drive to expand the Integrated Child Development Services program that aims to improve the health, nutrition, and development of children in India; and 
  • “the creation of the National Rural Health Mission, a community-based health initiative designed to deliver essential health services to rural India.”
Even as saying that South Asia’s GHI score, after declining “at a moderate rate between 1990 and 2000”, with progress stalling between 2000 and 2005 “before hunger levels dropped again between 2005 and 2015”, the study says, it largely due to India that the region’s GHI dropped by “more than 8 points.”
“However”, the study underlines, “Progress in reducing child undernutrition has been uneven across India’s states. While the reasons for the improvements—or lack thereof—are not entirely clear, one factor that seems to correlate with undernutrition in India is open defecation, which contributes to illnesses that prevent the absorption of nutrients.”
“Additionally”, the study says, “The low social status of women, which affects women’s health and nutrition, makes it more likely that babies will be born underweight.”

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