Monday, December 16, 2013

Measuring Global Hunger

On Dec. 10, many of us joined Pope Francis in praying for an end to world hunger by 2025, and we also pledged to take action through the Human Family, Food for All campaign. Where do we begin? A first step is to put things into perspective. How do we define hunger? On Thanksgiving 2013, The Global Post published an eye-opening article that compared our average calorie intake in the U.S. with that of 15 poor countries, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, although the list also included North Korea, the Palestinian territories, Haiti and East Timor.

"The average daily caloric intake of an American is now 3,700 calories," said The Global Post in an article entitled The Hungriest Places on Earth. "On Thanksgiving, that average jumps to 4,500. In contrast, people in 15 countries consumed less than half of that amount each day, if they are lucky, and much, much less if they are not."  (Incidentally, daily calorie intake in the U.S. increased from 3,605 in 2003.  Here is a global map for that year)

Tanzania (Global Hunger Post)
At the top of the list (or bottom) is Burundi, where the average calorie intake is 1,670 calories per day. Eritrea, Zambia, East Timor, and Haiti also recorded daily calorie intakes of less than 2,000 calories a day. The daily calorie intake in the Palestinian territories, Swaziland, Comoros, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and North Korea was below 2,250 calories.

 While Burundi had the smallest daily calorie intake, Comoros (an island off the southeast coast of Africa) experienced the widest calorie deficit at 655. This refers to daily number of calories that each undernourished person would need to eat to become nourished.

Cover Photo for 2013 Global Hunger Index
Global Hunger Index
Another measure is the Global Hunger Index (GHI) which uses a combination of metrics to rank at-risk countries from 1 to 78, with 78 being the most at-risk country. Burundi, Eritrea, Comoros and East Timor scored respective ratings of 78,  77, 76 and 75 on the GHI. Other countries were not far behind: Madagascar (70), Zambia (69), Haiti (67), Mozambique (64), Tanzania (62)and DRC (61).

"The GHI highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction and provides insights into the drivers of hunger, and food and nutrition insecurity," said the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which compiled the data. By raising awareness and understanding of regional and country differences, the GHI, it is hoped, will trigger actions to reduce hunger."

"The 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI), which reflects data from the period 2008–2012, shows that global hunger has improved since 1990, falling by one-third," added the IFPRI. "Despite the progress made, the level of hunger in the world remains 'serious,' with 870 million people going hungry, according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations."   Here is a link to the full report.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.