This year, after decades of decline, the number of hungry people worldwide is on the rise, now standing at 821 million. With the release of the Global Hunger Index 2018, we can confirm that we are still far from a world free from hunger.
What is the Global Hunger Index?
The 2018 Global Hunger Index - published jointly by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe - tracks the state of hunger worldwide and spotlights those places where action to address hunger is most urgently needed. It 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.
But measuring hunger is complicated. Overall, 119 countries were ranked in this year's report. Each country is given a score between 0 and 100. The higher the score, the higher the hunger levels are. A score above 20 is classified as "serious" and above 35 as "alarming”. The component indicators are: the proportion of the population that is undernourished; prevalence of wasting (rapid weight loss) in children; the prevalence of stunted growth in children; and the child death rate.
This year's findings
This year's report shows that the world has made progress in reducing hunger since 2000, but that this progress has been uneven, with levels of hunger still serious or alarming in 51 countries and extremely alarming in one country - the Central African Republic - which is now the hungriest country in the world.
The results confirm that we are still far from a world free from hunger. While there are a number of factors contributing to this rise, conflict is one of the main drivers. Indeed, the bottom three countries of this year’s GHI – Central African Republic, Chad and Yemen – are in the midst of conflict, and in fact 60% of the world’s hungry people live in conflict zones.
Watch this video for some groundbreaking hunger facts taken from this year's GHI.
Conflict has a devastating impact on food security. Countries affected by conflict have double the rates of undernutrition compared to those that aren’t.
CAR has suffered from decades of misrule, coups and periods of violent conflict. The most recent conflict began at the end of 2012 and at its height forced millions to flee their homes. It also caused a surge in hunger levels. Already a poor and vulnerable country, the recurrence of conflict since 2013 has driven over a million people, a fifth of the entire population, from their homes. More than 2.5 million people - over half the population - are in need of humanitarian assistance. At the height of the conflict, fields in many areas were trampled or burned, and for a largely rural population where growing your own food is integral to obtaining enough nutritious food for a balanced diet, this is a huge problem. Food reserves, seed stores and livestock were also looted, and much of the infrastructure was destroyed.
The devastating impact on food security is long-lasting, in part because hunger and conflict is a self-defeating circle – conflict increases food insecurity, and food and nutrition insecurity increase the likelihood of unrest, violence and conflict. But we can break the cycle of conflict and hunger.
On 17 October at the Irish Embassy, London, we will be joined by a number of important figures in the fight against hunger such as Matthew Rycroft, the Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development and Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, to discuss how we can break this vicious cycle of conflict and hunger. Follow us on Twitter at @ConcernUK and watch the event streamed live from 4pm.