Chanakya Daily Editorial Analysis
GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX: A LESSON IN HOW NOT TO MEASURE HUNGER
- GS Paper 2: Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.
- Mains exam: Issues with the Global Hunger Index
Recently, Concern Worldwide released the Global Hunger Index. India ranked 107 out of 123 countries, dropping from the rank of 101 in 2021. The government has responded sharply to the publicity surrounding this, rejecting the methodology employed by the researchers and noting the substantial efforts made by the government to improve access to foodgrains by India’s poor.
What are the parameters on which the index is based?
The index rests on four indicators:
- Proportion of undernourished in the population,
- Under-five mortality rate,
- Prevalence of stunting (low height-for-age)
- wasting (low weight-for-height
The issue with Global Hunger Index
- Riddled with inadequate and poorly described data: Global Hunger Index is riddled with inadequate and poorly described data and a lack of conceptual clarity.
- Lumping together various indicators with only a weak relationship with hunger: The index takes into consideration many markers which may not necessarily be a reason of hunger.
P Child mortality depends heavily on a country’s disease climate and public health systems. Today, 40 of 1,000 children in India die before their fifth birthday; 27 of these deaths occur in the first month of life. This suggests that many child deaths are associated with conditions surrounding birth, congenital conditions, or delivery complications.
P The relationship between stunting (low height-for-age), wasting (low weight-for-height), and hunger is not apparent.
P As per UNICEF’s article titled ‘Stop Stunting’, poverty is not a clear cause of stunting as there are stunted children even among the wealthiest households.
Q Various factors contribute to stunting, such as infant and child care practices, hygiene, dietary diversity and cultural practices surrounding maternal diet during pregnancy.
P Food insecurity contributes to child stunting, but its relative importance in determining stunting is not established.
P Wasting is associated with both recent illnesses and low food intake. The two are closely related; children suffering from diarrhea are less likely to eat, and poor nutritional status makes them more susceptible to disease.
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Chanakya Daily Editorial Analysis
- Smaller sample size: The estimates used in the reports are based on Gallup World Poll’s survey of 3,000 households in India (and 1,000 households in smaller countries).
- In addition to its small size, the Gallup sampling methodology does not follow the usual processes used in India.
- No information related to errors in data: The index relies heavily on the data collected by FAO and FAO has not released standard errors for their estimates.
P It makes difficult to evaluate how the growth in the proportion of households experiencing hunger in India, from 14.8 per cent in 2013-15 to 16.3 per cent in 2019-21.
- Lack of transparency: The report is often criticized for lack of transparency as the data used is not in public domain. About a third of the index rests on the Food and Agricultural Organization’s estimates of the proportion of undernourished in the population which is not adequate and has many times been criticized by the various governments and experts.
The rebuttal by the government rests on valid ground. The index doesn’t seems genuinely measuring hunger, it is lumping together various indicators with only a weak relationship with hunger. There is a need to evaluate the representativeness of the sample.
To ensure transparency, it is essential that international agencies only use data that are freely available in the public domain along with key characteristics such as education, residence and age of the respondents.
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