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Global Hunger Index

What do we know about the hunger situation worldwide? Has progress been made or are there any setbacks? Using the Global Hunger Index, the global hunger situation can be calculated and assessed.

Miriam Wiemers Team Policy and External Relations

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger and undernutrition at global, regional, and national levels. It is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the fight against hunger, 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.

Global Hunger Index 2021: Progress and Setbacks

The 2021 GHI highlights a worrying hunger situation arising from the devastating web of effects of the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly severe and protracted conflicts. Previous progress in the fight against hunger has been slowed or even reversed. Whilst global hunger has declined since 2000, in many countries, progress toward Zero Hunger has stagnated or even experienced setbacks. Hunger has increased in ten countries with moderate, serious, or alarming hunger levels since 2012; in some cases as a result of a lack of progress and in others by worsening an already precarious situation. 14 countries, however, have achieved significant improvements of their hunger situations.

Global Hunger Index 2021

Report, synopsis, map: All documents can be downloaded here in English and other languages.

Global hunger, represented by a GHI score of 17.9, is in the moderate category. Twenty years ago, the global hunger situation was still ranked as serious with a score of 28.0. However, too many people around the world still suffer from hunger. In fact, the global prevalence of undernutrition, one of the GHI's four indicators, is rising again after decades of decline. This trend could be a sign that other hunger indicators are also reversing. We also lag far behind in the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on child nutrition. Most countries are not on track to meet their goals in reducing wasting (a sign of acute undernutrition), stunting (a sign of chronic undernutrition), as well as under-five child mortality by 2030.

Crises, Conflicts and Climate Change Hinder Zero Hunger

The 2021 Global Hunger Index shows that 47 countries are unlikely to achieve even low levels of hunger by 2030 based on their recent trends. More than half of the undernourished live in countries affected by conflict, violence or in fragile states. Conflict is a major contributor to hunger in eight out of ten countries with serious or alarming hunger levels. Conflicts are particularly devastating for children, driving up malnutrition and child mortality. They can also exacerbate food insecurity through negative impacts on agricultural production, whilst increased food insecurity can in turn contribute to violent conflict. 

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The impacts of climate change are also becoming increasingly evident, exacerbating food insecurity through higher temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and more frequent extreme weather events. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how vulnerable we are to the global spread of infection and the associated health and economic consequences. By the end of 2020, up to 828 million people were suffering from chronic hunger, 193 million people were affected by an acute food crisis. This development is particularly worrying because we are observing an increase without the full impact of the pandemic being included in the data collection. A further increase in hunger can therefore be expected in the future.

Hunger and Food Systems in Conflict Areas

In the context of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, the GHI explores one of this year's key policy questions: How can we bring about crucial change for the millions of people suffering from the devastating effects of conflict and the climate crisis?

Ein Kind hält ein Brotfladen über dem Kopf und lächelt in die Kamera. Global Hunger Index Website

The latest figures, an interactive map and all past GHI reports.

Violent conflict is the main cause of food crises. It is destructive to virtually every aspect of a food system, from production, harvesting, processing, and transport to input supply, financing, marketing, and consumption. In many cases, the impacts of conflict and climate change overlap and exacerbate risks to communities. Building resilient food systems must integrate peacebuilding and vice versa. Conflict must be resolved through political action as well as social change, and accountability for violations of the right to food must be ensured in conflict situations. Most urgently, we need global solidarity to adequately respond to and overcome the current pandemic and future global crises.

Where is the hunger situation the most severe? 

This year's Global Hunger Index shows that the hunger situation in many countries still needs urgent attention. According to the 2021 GHI, one country, Somalia, suffers from an extremely alarming level of hunger. Hunger is at an alarming level in five countries – Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Yemen. In some countries, there is not enough data to calculate a GHI score. But based on known data, four other countries – Burundi, Comoros, South Sudan and Syria – have been provisionally categorized as alarming.

Global Hunger Index 2021: The analyzed countries can be sorted into categories depending on whether the hunger situation is serious, very serious, serious, moderate or low. © Welthungerhilfe
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Conflict is a major contributor to worsening hunger in 8 of the 10 countries most affected by hunger. © Welthungerhilfe
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Global Hunger Index 2021, GHI score by region: score by region: The hunger situation is worst in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. © Welthungerhilfe
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How must governments act now? © Welthungerhilfe
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How is the Global Hunger Index Calculated?

The countries analysed can be categorised according to whether their hunger level is extremely alarming, alarming, serious, moderate or low. The higher the value, the higher the severity of hunger in the country in question.

The 4 Indicators of the Global Hunger Index

Focus 2021: Conflict and Hunger

The authors of the Global Hunger Index essay Dan Smith (Director SIPRI) and Caroline Delgado (Senior Researcher & Program Director SIPRI) explain how hunger and conflict are linked and how they can be addressed.

The report is published jointly by Welthungerhilfe and the Alliance 2015 partner Concern Worldwide.

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