As the world approaches the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals—which include a goal of reducing the proportion of hungry people by half—the 2010 Global Hunger Index offers a useful multidimensional overview of global hunger.
The 2010 GHI shows some improvement over the 1990 GHI, falling by almost one-quarter. Nonetheless, the index for hunger in the world remains at a level characterized as “serious.” The result is unsurprising given that the overall number of hungry people surpassed 1 billion in 2009, even though it decreased to 925 million in 2010, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The highest regional GHI scores are for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, but South Asia has made much more progress since 1990. In South Asia, the low nutritional, educational, and social status of women is among the major factors that contribute to a high prevalence of underweight in children under five. In contrast, in Sub-Saharan Africa, low government effectiveness, conflict, political instability, and high rates of HIV and AIDS are among the major factors that lead to high child mortality and a high proportion of people who cannot meet their calorie requirements.
Some countries achieved significant absolute progress in improving their GHI. Between the 1990 GHI and the 2010 GHI, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Vietnam saw the largest improvements.
Twenty-nine countries still have levels of hunger that are “extremely alarming” or “alarming.” The countries with “extremely alarming” 2010 GHI scores – Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritrea – are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the countries with “alarming” GHI scores are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The largest deterioration in GHI scores was seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, largely because of conflict and political instability.