Hunger Index - Health Emergency in India and South Asia - Seeker's Thoughts

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Friday, 12 October 2018

Hunger Index - Health Emergency in India and South Asia

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India has a population of 1.3 Billion people. India has been on the rise economically as well as grain production has increased almost two times but India produces sufficient food to produce its population yet this is the land of one among the hungriest people.  

India’s Position in World Hunger Index- India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 counties in the index, with hunger in the country categorised as “serious”. India's ranking has dropped their place from last year, although the index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017. 

At least one in five Indian children under the age of five are wasted which means they have extremely low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition, according to the Global hunger index 2018. The only country with a high prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan, says report. 

Main indicators which are used to calculate hunger levels in the world hunger index 
There are 4 main indicators used for the calculation of hunger level report, which is peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and concern worldwide. The international food policy research institute was also involved with the publication until this year. 
Four main indicators: - 
1- The first indicator is undernourishment, which is the share of the population which is undernourished and reflects insufficient caloric intake. 
2- child wasting (low weight and height) reflecting acute under- nutrition;  
3 - child stunting (low height for age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition. 
Though India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 2000 to 2018. Whereas child mortality rate has halved, while child stunting has dropped over the same period. 

Child wasting is high across south Asia, which creates critical public health emergency, according to the UN organisation. The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months. 

Suggestions are given to control such sever problem 
Attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important, child wasting in the region is associated with low maternal body mass index, there is a need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy. 
Maternal BMI and access to improved water and sanitation are more closely associated with rates of child wasting than household wealth, suggesting that a reduction in poverty alone may not be sufficient to correct the problem. There are other factors which should to be addressed. 

Major factors which are responsible for high hunger problem  
Other than that, the index projects that at the current rate of progress, 50 countries will fail to reach the “low” hunger category by 2030. This puts the UN’s sustainable development GOAL NO-2 which aims to end hunger by 2030. 
-          Post Harvest losses – This is a severe issue of maintenance of grains. Post-harvest a huge amount of grains is lost. 
      -          Nematodes- These are bacteria which ruin near about 60 million tonnes of food grains. These nematodes are highly prevalent and can survive in any region from arctic to equator.  
      -          Unavailability of storage facilities- In India, there are basic problems with Infrastructure and cold chains.  Post-harvest storage facilities remain underdeveloped.  
     -          Unawareness- A major portion of the population remains unaware from the problems faced by the rest of Indians. People keep on wasting resources according to their privileges while other people lack basic facilities like food.  
     -          Climate Change- Climate change impacts the climate and crop cultivation worldwide. This is not restricted to India though. 
     -          Unscientific Farming practice- The Indian farmers follow the traditional methods of cultivation which is not wrong yet there is a need to update the knowledge and expertise in the farming segments. The knowledge about soil, climate and crop will enhance production of crops.  

So, there are various reasons for India to have highest numbers of hungry people. A huge population faces corruption issue as well, where officials fail to deliver services. Various governments have taken different measures to reduce hunger. factors that could reduce child stunting in south Asia . This includes increased consumption of non-staple foods, and  access to sanitation, women’s education, access to safe water, gender equality and national food availability. 
However according to the available data, those do not seem to be delivered. India needs to come up with better planning and multidimensional approach to curb the issue. There are problems from multiple sides, so multiple solutions are required. However, the main concern is wastage of food, rather than production though both sides to be worked upon.