The Indian government says there is an effort to tarnish India’s image.
Not at all. The GHI is compiled by technical experts using published data from internationally recognised organisations and published in a peer-reviewed report each year. It is produced using the same standards and the same four indicators for all countries: undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality. Taken together, they reflect deficiencies in quantity (calories) as well as in quality (micronutrients). Our job is to measure long-term hunger in all countries that meet our inclusion criteria and where we have sufficient data. Our vision is to achieve “Zero hunger by 2030”.
The government says that the questions asked to calculate the GHI scores do not take into account the efforts it has made for nutritional support and food security.
The GHI is data-based and there are no special questions for any country. What our long-term measurements clearly show: Since 2000, India has made substantial progress, but there are areas of concern, particularly regarding child nutrition. At 19.3 per cent(latest published data), India has the highest child wasting rate of all countries covered in the GHI. This rate is higher than the 17.1 per cent in 1998-1999.
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It is argued that the GHI is not reflective of the hunger status and that other determinants such as sanitation, genetics, drinking water, and utilisation of food intake have to be considered.
We want to measure hunger in its complexity, and we measure outcomes and not inputs. That’s why we use the four internationally recognised scientific indicators. . The prevalence of undernourishment is recognised as one indicator for SDG 2.1 on ensuring access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food for all. Child stunting and wasting are recognised as indicators to track progress on SDG 2.2 on ending all forms of malnutrition. Undernutrition is the result of inadequate intake of food in terms of either quantity or quality, poor utilisation of nutrients due to infections or other illnesses, or a combination of these immediate causes. These, in turn, result from a range of underlying factors, including household food insecurity; inadequate maternal health or childcare practices; or inadequate access to health services, safe water, and sanitation. Finally, we include child mortality, listed as SDG 3.2., for reducing preventable deaths of children under five years of age.
There are accusations that the sample size of 3,000 is very small.
This accusation refers to “Prevalence of Undernourishment”. This indicator is calculated by experts of the FAO using several factors. Given their competence and long-standing experience, we are convinced that their sample sizes and methodologies are state-of-the-art. The prevalence of undernourishment takes into account the distribution of calorie intake in the population as estimated through official consumption surveys conducted by governments. Where governments have not provided consumption survey data, this aspect is updated using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale [FIES] survey data. India has not collected and disseminated a household consumption survey since 2011.
Does food insecurity contribute to stunting?
Stunting is a result of multiple factors, but food insecurity also contributes to child stunting in multiple ways. Food security has four dimensions: Food availability, meaning the availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports;food access; the utilisation of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care; and stability: To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times.
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It has been argued that all three indicators of child health are related to poor food intake but none of them is solely determined by hunger.
It is not credible. It is important to consider why three out of four indicators used in the calculation of the Global Hunger Index relate primarily to children. Children are particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. The most critical time for good nutrition is the 1,000-day window between the mother’s pregnancy and a child’s second birthday.
- GHI project head Laura Reiner refutes allegation of bias against India in GHI survey and says the same methodology is applied to all countries in the survey.
- No other country has objected to the methodology, she says.