NEW YORK – Malnutrition among children under two years of age is one of the leading challenges to reducing global hunger, and can cause lifelong damage to mental and physical development, productivity, and earning potential, according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report released today and published annually by Concern Worldwide, the international humanitarian agency; the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and German aid group Welthungerhilfe.
The GHI was published ahead of World Food Day (Oct. 16, 2010)
The annual Index scores and ranks levels of hunger across 122 countries on a 100-point scale—with zero being the best score—based on three indicators: the proportion of people who are undernourished, the proportion of children under five who are underweight, and the child mortality rate.
Since 1990, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Vietnam have all seen positive progress in terms of their ranking by the GHI. However, this year’s report also finds that 29 countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, have levels of hunger that are “extremely alarming” or “alarming.”
With a special focus on malnutrition among children, the 2010 index shines a light on the window of opportunity for improving nutrition for pregnant women and from the time a child is born through age two. “Ensuring appropriate and adequate nutrition during the first 1,000 days of development is absolutely critical. Proper nutrition until a child reaches the age of two is vital to growth and development. Damage done before the age of two from under-nutrition is largely irreversible,” said Concern Worldwide CEO, Tom Arnold.
The Global Hunger Index echoes the message delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin at a major event held during the September UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York. “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future” is a joint initiative—formally launched Sept. 21, 2010—of the Irish and US governments to urge greater accountability, attention and leadership on under-nutrition.
“This report is a further contribution to our understanding of the challenges and the solutions to the scandal of world hunger. It articulates clear recommendations to inform and encourage the international community to take decisive action and hold themselves accountable. Our hope is that those recommendations will now be acted upon. Those suffering hunger on a daily basis deserve no less,” said Arnold, an internationally recognized expert in food security.