2019 Global Hunger Index: The challenge of hunger and climate change
16 October 2019 | Adaptation
This is the fourteenth annual publication of the Global Hunger Index (GHI).
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and call attention to those areas of the world where hunger levels are highest and where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest.
Measuring hunger is complicated. To use the GHI information most effectively, it helps to understand how the GHI scores are calculated and what they can and cannot tell us.
The 2019 report
The 2019 GHI measures hunger in 117 countries where the assessment is most relevant and where data on all four component indicators are available.
43 countries out of 117 countries have levels of hunger that remain serious.
4 countries Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia suffer from hunger levels that are alarming and 1 country Central African Republic from a level that is extremely alarming.
High-income countries are not included in the GHI but still show variable, non-negligible rates of food insecurity. The Food Insecurity Experience Scale—another measure of hunger not used in or directly comparable to the GHI—shows that in the European Union 18 percent of households with children under age 15 experience moderate or severe food insecurity.
The essay this year focuses on the impact of climate change and hunger:
- Human actions have created a world in which it is becoming ever more difficult to adequately and sustainably feed and nourish the human population. Ever-rising emissions have pushed average global temperatures to 1°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Climate change is affecting the global food system in ways that increase the threats to those who currently already suffer from hunger and undernutrition.
- There is a strong correlation between GHI scores and levels of vulnerability/readiness to climate change. Countries with high GHI scores are often also highly vulnerable to climate change but have the least capacity to adapt; several countries with low GHI scores are the least vulnerable and most ready.
- Climate change affects the quality and safety of food. It can lead to production of toxins on crops and worsen the nutritional value of cultivated food – for example, it can reduce the concentrations of protein, zinc, and iron in crops. As a result, by 2050 an estimated additional 175 million people could be deficient in zinc and an additional 122 million people could experience protein deficiencies.