Hunger Levels Continue on the Rise: 2022 Global Hunger Index Released
- Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa
- Asia: Southern Asia
- Americas : Latin America and the Caribbean
- Food Crisis and Related Risk Factors
- Climate Change
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Over the past two years, the impacts of ongoing regional conflicts, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian-Ukraine war have drastically weakened the world’s already inadequate, unsustainable food systems. This confluence of factors has induced in supply chain disruptions and high and volatile prices for food, fertilizer, and fuel, and the result has been the third global food crisis in less than two decades. According to the 2022 Global Hunger Index (GHI), released in October by IFPRI, Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe, the world’s progress toward ending hunger has virtually stopped.
An estimated 828 million people worldwide were undernourished in 2021, a number which has continued to climb since 2017 after almost a decade of decline. The 2022 GHI, which ranks hunger levels on four indicators (undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality), scored global hunger in 2021 at 18.2 – only a small decline from its 2014 rank (19.1), which highlights the world’s lack of progress in ending hunger. Unless these trends change, the report states, the world will not be able to reach a low hunger ranking – less than 9.9 – by 2030.
As the world faces a moderate hunger ranking, the situation is far worse in many regions and individual countries. Both South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara (SSA) received serious hunger scores in 2021 (27.4 and 27.0, respectively). South Asia experienced the highest child stunting and child wasting rates, while SSA saw the highest rates of undernourishment and child mortality. In both regions, conflict has been a major driving factor of rising hunger levels in many countries, as have rising food and fuel prices following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war and extreme weather events such as ongoing severe drought in East Africa.
Forty-four countries around the world are currently experiencing serious or alarming hunger levels as measured by the GHI. In addition, five countries have GHI scores in the alarming range (Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Yemen). If more data were available, the report states, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria would likely be moved into the alarming category as well, with Somalia potentially being ranked as extremely alarming and at serious risk of famine.
The report also finds that 20 countries with moderate, serious, or alarming hunger levels ranked higher in the 2022 GHI than in the 2014 report (the most recent historical reference year for GHI scores), and that these countries are spread throughout the world rather than concentrated in South Asia or SSA. This trend highlights the fact that rising hunger levels are a risk for all of the world’s regions. Even in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), hunger levels are low, GHI scores rose from 2014 to 2022, driven mostly by increased undernourishment. The report also notes that there are “hunger hotspots” even within countries with overall low hunger levels.
While the overall news is dire, several countries have experienced declines in their GHI scores since 2000. In SSA, five countries – Angola, Djibouti, Ghana, Malawi, and Senegal – saw reductions in their GHI scores of 50-60 percent. In LAC as well, five countries saw declines of 50 percent or more – Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay.
The report concludes with several policy recommendations that experts say can help stop and reverse the trend of rising hunger levels at the global, regional, country, and local levels.
- Prioritize inclusive governance and accountability in efforts to transform food systems. Stopping this most current global food crisis, and preventing future crises, will require the development of more resilient, sustainable, and equitable food systems. This in turn requires good governance and accountability among both governments and private sector stakeholders involved in food and nutrition policy.
- Build local capacity and involve local communities. To truly be inclusive and effective, food system transformation needs to involve people “on the ground” – those who are directly involved in food production, transport, processing, wholesale and retail, and consumption and who understand the local complexities in their communities. In addition, local authorities and agencies must be empowered to understand and carry out food and nutrition policies.
- Mobilize the international community in coordinated efforts to prevent and respond to emergencies. This includes increasing humanitarian aid in both the short and the long term and investing in early warning systems and flexible contingency funds to anticipate global food price shocks and be able to respond quickly and agilely. In addition, governments need to work together on peace-building and development activities and avoid knee-jerk policy reactions like food and fuel export restrictions.