The state of hunger in developing countries as a group has improved since 1990, falling by 39 percent, according to the 2014 GHI. Despite progress made, the level of hunger in the world is still “serious,” with 805 million people continuing to go hungry, according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Levels of hunger are “extremely alarming” or “alarming” in 16 countries. Progress in addressing child underweight was the main factor behind the improved GHI score for the region since 1990.
One form of hunger that is often ignored or overshadowed by hunger related to energy deficits is hidden hunger—also called micronutrient deficiency—which affects some 2 billion people around the world. This shortage in essential vitamins and minerals can have long-term, irreversible health effects as well as socioeconomic consequences that can erode a person’s well-being and development. By affecting people’s productivity, it can also take a toll on countries’ economies.
Possible solutions to hidden hunger include food-based approaches: dietary diversification, which might involve growing more diverse crops in a home garden; fortification of commercial foods; and biofortification, in which food crops are bred with increased micronutrient content. Food-based measures will require long-term, sustained, and coordinated efforts to make a lasting difference. In the short term, vitamin and mineral supplements can help vulnerable populations combat hidden hunger.
Along with these solutions that address the low content or density of vitamins and minerals in food, behavioral change communication is critical to educate people about health services, sanitation and hygiene, and caring practices, as well as the need for greater empowerment of women at all levels. To eliminate hidden hunger, governments must demonstrate political commitment by making fighting it a priority.
GLOBAL HUGER INDEX
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by region and country. It highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction and provides insights into the drivers of hunger and nutrition insecurity.
To reflect the multidimensional nature of hunger, theGHI combines three equally weighted indicators into one index:
1. Undernourishment: the proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population (reflecting the share of the population with insufficient caloric intake);
2. Child underweight: the proportion of children under the age of five who are underweight (that is, have low weight for their age, reflecting wasting, stunted growth, or both), which is one indicator of child undernutrition; and
3. Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate food intake and unhealthy environments)
This multidimensional approach to measuring hunger offers several advantages. It reflects the nutrition situation not only of the population as a whole, but also of children—for whom a lack of dietary energy, protein, or micronutrients (that is, essential vitamins and minerals) leads to a high risk of illness, poor physical and cognitive development, or death. It also combines independently measured indicators to reduce the effects of random measurement errors.
Where and how PRO.SA is working
Countries Etiopia, Mozambico, Perù, Togo and Camerun
Activities - Healt care
- Milk enriched with micronutrients, for children from 0 to 5 years.
Countries Ecuador and Thailandia
Activities - Familiarpsycotherapy
- Child care and assistance to families in the care of their needs
Countries Kenya, Pakistan and Philippines
Activities - Raising the level of education by ensuring access to food
Countries Bolivia, Brasil, Perù, Etiopia and Mozambico
Activities - Teaching of the nutritional values of various food
- Cooking classes for the preparation of balanced foods with local products
- Informative publications with simple recipes.
- Monthly monitoring of the health of children and pregnant women
Countries Camerun, Philippines, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Thailandia, Togo and Vietnam
Activities - Ensure proper nutrition for children
- Monitor the health of children by weekly or monthly
- To train mothers on the notions of basic hygiene
- Make irrigation wells
- Start activities of community gardens