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How Global Hunger Index (GHI) is calculated? India ranks 107 this time.

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

We usually hear in news about the rising cases of hunger crisis across the world due to recent pandemic of corona virus that stuck the world in 2020. However, the problem of hunger had existed even beyond and since the existence of human race but earlier when there used to be the rule of kings and small kingdoms, than it wasn't an issue which was tracked so diligently as it is now of course due to the awareness and technology and improved civilization are the reasons. But now the hunger index is tracked all across the world and released every year in October. Let's figure it out what it is and how it is calculated.

What is Global Hunger Index?

Global Hunger Index reflects multiple dimensions of hunger and is a tool that maps the measurement of hunger at global, regional and national level.

The idea behind the index is to create awareness and bring into notice the struggle against hunger between countries and regions. It highlights the areas where there is serious hunger problem and additional effort is required to tackle the problem of hunger.

How GHI evolved?

The Global Hunger Index was created in 2006 and was initially published by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a US based institute along with the Germany-based Welthungerhilfe. Later the index got another partner as Concern Worldwide, an Irish NGO who in 2007 became its co publisher and eventually the IFPRI moved out with other two Welthungerhilfe and Concern worldwide remaining the main publishers.

How GHI is calculated?

There are 4 broad indicators to GHI:

  • Undernourishment: Population with insufficient caloric intake is measured, that is the caloric value of the people living in the country is mapped and their share is evaluated.

  • Child stunting: Children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic under nutrition is measured, that is the short heighted and age is old.

  • Child wasting: Children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute under nutrition is measured, basically how much the child is skinny compared to its height.

  • Child mortality: Children who die before their fifth birthday are measure that could be due to inadequate nutrition or unhealthy environments or both. That is other natural or accidental deaths are not considered in this case.

The reason of including these indicators is to get a overview and cover all possible aspects to measure hunger and its seriousness. With each of these 4 indicators it becomes clear, the caloric intake, height, weight and death of a child due to under nourishment reflecting hunger in the area. As reflected in the chart below.


Also a point to be noted here is the data used in all these indicators is source from the UN and other agencies. If the latest data is not available then the estimates for the GHI component indicators is made based on the most recent available data. usually data is missing for the counties facing violent conflicts or political unrest.

The Formula

The values of each component is determined for each country. How it is measured is as such:

Each countries threshold is fixed according to it's observed value since 1988 on a 100 point scale. That is if any country has 56 score to be highest in recent decades it's threshold is fixed to be 60 (threshold) somewhat close. And each year value is divided by this threshold value, For Example :

  • (Prevalence of undernourishment / 60) x 100 = standardized undernourishment value

  • (Child wasting rate / 40) x 100 = standardized child wasting value

  • (Child mortality rate / 55) x100 = standardized child mortality value

All these standardized scores are later aggregated to form GHI score for each country. Here Zero (0) means the best score that is no hunger and 100 means the worst score.

Also, interesting point to note is if any country has lets say 100 score it doesn't means it is 100 as general but it is 100 as compared to its threshold value that is set over the decades. That is it signify that the child mortality, stunting, wasting and undernourished values exactly meets its threshold value set slightly above the highest levels observed worldwide in recent decades.

Then other thing is, each indicator also doesn't have same weightage in the overall GHI score. The table below shows the breakdown of each indicator.


India's ranking in 2022

  • In year 2022, India scored 29.1 with 107 ranking, below Sri Lanka (64), Nepal (81), Bangladesh (84), and Pakistan (99). Afghanistan (109) is the only country in South Asia that performs worse than India on the index. This places India under serious category.

44 countries that currently have “serious” or “alarming” hunger levels and “without a major shift, neither the world as a whole nor approximately 46 countries are projected to achieve even low hunger as measured by the GHI by 2030,”
  • India’s child wasting rate (low weight for height) is at 19.3%, which is worse than the levels recorded in 2014 (15.1%) and even 2000 (17.15), and is the highest for any country in the world and drives up the region’s average owing to India’s large population. (Also read about, issue of overpopulation in India)

  • The undernourishment has also risen in the country from 14.6% in 2018 - 2020 to 16.3% in 2019 - 2021, which means 224.3 million people in India are under nourished.

  • Child stunting has improved from 38.7% to 35.5% between 2014 and 2022.

  • Child mortality has also dropped from 4.6% to 3.3% between 2014 and 2022.

stay tuned for more.

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