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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

South Asians remain hungrier than Botswana, Iraq & North Korea!

News Analysis |

Home to the largest concentration of population on Earth, the region of South Asia has performed dismally in the current Global Hunger Index 2017 released by Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The rankings are based on four indicators: undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting, and child stunting. The rankings of the two major powers of the region India and Pakistan are an eye-opener.

India ranked 100 on the index followed by Pakistan at 106 out 119 countries. What is shocking that these two giants of the subcontinent are worse off than countries like Botswana (81) and Burkina Faso (92) and even besieged Iraq (78).  Other South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh were better off. Bhutan was not included due to lack of data.

The rankings of the South Asian region are as follows:

Nepal 72
Sri Lanka 84
Bangladesh 88
India 100
Pakistan 106
Afghanistan 107

The statistics have caused the overall ranking of South Asia to fall, making it the worst performer on the GHI, even below the south of the Sahara African region. The worst afflicted South Asian country was the war-wracked nation of Afghanistan. The nation has been undergoing foreign invasions and militancy since the 1980s. Conflict and violence are given as reasons affecting food security in India and Pakistan also.

The ranking of India has fallen from 97 last year to 100 in the current one. The alarming situation in the world’s fastest-growing economy, as well as the world’s second-largest producer of food, has highlighted high poverty rates and unequal distribution of wealth that have left millions of households without access to nutritious food.

Though India has boasted introduction of mega schemes like the Integrated Child Development Services and the National Health Mission, it has not managed to improve its rankings. According to IFPRI, At 31.4, India’s 2017 GHI (Global Hunger Index) score is at the high end of the ‘serious’ category. IFPRI also pointed out that more than one-fifth of Indian children under five weigh too little for their height and over a third are too short for their age.

Pakistan statistics improved from last year

Pakistan has improved from 108 last year to 106 but still lags behind other countries like Iraq and several African nations. IFPRI noted that about one-fifth of Pakistan’s total population was undernourished and 45% children were facing the problem of impaired body growth due to poor nutrition.

The report has highlighted the lack of performance from funds given under the aegis of the twin programs of Millennium Development Goals and the Prime Minister’s Global Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme. A sum of Rs 50 billion has been allocated to these two programs yet no significant improvement can be seen. Many assert that the funds of these programs are being misused by local parliamentarians.

The South Asian region seems to be on the path to become the “sick man of Asia” due to the poverty and inequality afflicting the two main powers of the region.