India is ranked 103 out of 119 countries in the Global hunger index 2018, three places below last year. The report released annually by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German charity Welthungerhlife said that as many as 21% of Indian children under the age of five suffer from acute under-nutrition. The report stated that hunger levels in India are “serious”.
The report implies that at least one in five children under the age of five have extremely low weight for their height. The report said that malnutrition rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months in South Asia and that is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting that the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy should be given greater focus.
“In South Asia, maternal BMI and access to improved water and sanitation are more closely associated with rates of child wasting than household wealth, suggesting that a reduction in poverty alone may not be sufficient to correct the problem,” the report said.
Welthungerlife and Concern Worldwide has been issuing reports on hunger levels in the world since 2006. The main area of focus for this year’s report has been “Forced Migration and Hunger”.
Hungers levels are calculated using four indicators – undernourishment, which is the share of the population that is undernourished, child wasting (malnutrition), which reflects acute under-nutrition, child stunting (low height for age) which reflects chronic under-nutrition; and child mortality. The last three indicators are the share of children under five years of age.
India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years. However, child wasting (malnutrition) has worsened – it stood at 17.1% in 2000, increased to 20% in 2005, and 21% in 2018. South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%.
Indian neighbours China, Srilanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are ranked 25th, 67th, 72nd, 86th,106th and 111th respectively.