Hunger problem in RP ’serious’

By Cai A. Ordinario, BusinessMirror

Posted at Oct 15 2009 10:52 AM | Updated as of Oct 15 2009 06:52 PM

The hunger problem in the Philippines was categorized as “serious” and ranked the country 34th among 84 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI), according to a report prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.

The GHI report, titled “The Challenge of Hunger: Focus on Financial Crisis and Gender Inequality,” said the Philippines’ score in the index was 13.2, which is still considered “serious.” A country is classified as having a “serious” hunger problem if it has a score of 10 to 19.9.

However, the GHI report showed the country’s GHI score in 2009, which used 2007 data, is a significant improvement from 1990, when the country’s index score was 19.

“The GHI shows that worldwide progress in reducing hunger remains slow. The 2009 global GHI has fallen
by only one quarter from the 1990 GHI. Southeast Asia, the Near East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean have reduced hunger significantly since 1990, but the GHI remains distressingly high in South
Asia, which has made progress since 1990, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, where progress has been marginal,” the report explained.

The GHI was released internationally on Wednesday in advance of World Food Day on October 16.

The hunger index score is based on the various available data including the proportion of undernourished in the population, prevalence of underweight in children under five years, and under-five mortality rate.

In the Philippines, around 16 percent of the population in 2003 to 2005 was undernourished, about 20.7 percent of children were underweight in 2002 to 2007, and the under-five mortality rate was at 2.8 percent in 2007.

“Although the poor and the hungry are, in general, hurt the most by the food and financial crises, the exact impacts at the household level differ widely. Policy responses to the food and financial crises must take these different impacts into account,” the report said.

Some countries achieved noteworthy progress in improving their GHI. Between the 1990 GHI and the 2009 GHI, Kuwait, Tunisia, Fiji, Malaysia, and Turkey had the largest percentage improvements. Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nicaragua and Vietnam saw the largest absolute improvements in their scores.

Nonetheless, 29 countries have levels of hunger that are alarming or extremely alarming. The countries with the highest 2009 GHI scores are Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. In most of the countries with high GHI scores, war and violent conflict have given rise to widespread poverty and food insecurity.

Nearly all of the countries in which the GHI rose since 1990 are in Sub-Saharan Africa.