870 million people are still going to bed hungry every night. The following countries have been ranked according to their Global Hunger Index (GHI) as calculated by Concern, Ireland’s largest humanitarian agency. The GHI combines three averaging percentages: the percentage of the population that is undernourished, the percentage of underweight children under five years of age, and the percentage of children dying before the age of five. The list omits certain countries for which data was not available or was unreliable.
Although the figures are stark, Concern’s report reveals that progress is being made: the 2013 world GHI is 34 percent lower than it was in 1990. However, the situation remains deplorable. The poorest continent in the world, Africa, emerges as the most severely afflicted continent, home to 9 of the 10 countries featured on the list. Political stability, protection from natural disasters, and the introduction of sustainable agricultural models emerge from the report as crucial to abolishing hunger and malnutrition from these nations.
10. Zambia – 24.1 GHI
Zambia is remarkably trouble-free compared with most of the other African countries with which it shares a border. It is Africa’s biggest producer of copper and attracts many tourists with its splendid Victoria Falls. However, despite these assets, a large proportion of the country’s population is going hungry. A tendency to periods of drought during farming seasons frequently jeopardises Zambia’s agriculture production and ability for self-sufficiency. Moreover, the death rate of the country is one of the highest in the world due to widespread poverty and a prevalence of HIV/Aids which affects 17% of the population.
9. Madagascar – 25.2 GHI
Isolated off the Southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and has a unique variety of animals, flora and fauna that don’t exist anywhere else on earth. This impressive biodiversity are however not the Malagasy people’s saving grace: the island is prone to tropical cyclones which severely hinder Madagascar’s self-sufficiency. Heavy floods and torrential rain destroy all of the agriculture and housing in their paths. According to the World Bank, 92% of Malagasy live on under US$2 a day. There is high competition for any agricultural land, which has put pressure on the island’s forests that are key to the country’s up and coming tourist industry. In 2009, Andry Rajoelina’s ‘coup d’état’ isolated Madagascar from the international community and foreign aid. It’s hoped that since the inauguration of new president Harry Rajaonarimampianina in January of this year, the political and economic crises brought about by the coup will end and that the new president will set the country back on the right track.
8. Ethiopia – 25.7 GHI
Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa, amongst a grouping of West African states severely affected by hunger and malnutrition. Ethiopia has recently formed part of a study called ‘The Cost of Hunger in Africa’ which concluded that the country loses around 16.5 percent of its GDP every year due to the long-term effects of child malnutrition. This reveals how inextricably social and economic development are linked. Over the past decade, Ethiopia has been implementing more and more measures to improve the situation. These measures are beginning to bear their fruits: programmes boosting agriculture are starting to enable Ethiopian families to better nourish themselves. Rich in natural resources such as coffee, oil, minerals and water, effective government management of resources could yet turn the nation around.
7. Yemen Republic – 26.5 GHI
Yemen, located at the southwestern end of the Arabian Peninsula, is currently undergoing a severe humanitarian crisis. Almost half of the country’s population – 10 million Yemenis – are either in a state of hunger or on the verge of it. The United Nations has intervened but the catastrophic scale of hunger and malnutrition presents a huge challenge to humanitarian efforts. It is one of the world’s least developed and most corrupt nations. Moreover, natural conditions are not on Yemen’s side: it’s predicted Sana’a could be the first capital city worldwide to run out of drinking water.
6. Chad – 26.9 GHI
Independent since 1960, Chad is a landlocked country of Central Africa. The country is currently in a dire situation, facing poor harvests and water shortage with little sign of improvement. With an unstable government, social unrest, poor infrastructure and conflict with neighbouring countries, there is little light at the end of the tunnel for Chad’s citizens. With an ever increasing influx of refugees from neighbouring countries, the population of Chad is on the rise but there is not enough food to go around. An increase in natural disasters in recent years has made matters worse.
5. Sudan (former) – 27 GHI
The North African Arab state of Sudan is the third largest in Africa and ranks as the fifth hungriest country in the world. It is also one of the least developed nations in the world and, according to The Corruptions Perception Index, is one of the most corrupt. Ethnic unrest and two civil wars have hindered Sudan’s development alongside poor human rights: for example the perpetuation of slavery and ethnic cleansing which have not been efficiently suppressed. Approximately one-fifth of Sudanese live below the international poverty line (less than US $1.25 per day). Currently the situation is worsening – earlier this week South Sudan’s Jonglei state asked for urgent help from international aid agencies as food shortages have worsened as a result of flash floods during the past growing season, and the severe violence that has been devastating the country over the past eight weeks.
4. Timor-Leste – 29.6 GHI
Australasian country Timor-Leste is still rebuilding from its 24 year-long struggle for Independence from Indonesia. Despite being rich in resources, Timor-Leste remains poorly developed with a large proportion of its population going hungry. Indeed, according to data from the World Health Organisation, 58% of malnourished East Timorese children suffer from stunting. Every year, the Timorese experience a particularly ‘hungry season’ – when the food crops from the past year have run out and the next crops are not yet ready. However, change is coming about: an AusAID-funded program Seeds of Life is currently taking off, distributing improved germplasm of basic food crops to Timorese farmers such as sweet potato, rice, maize, cassava and peanuts. Moreover, with the 6th largest GDP growth level in the world for 2013, the country’s prospects may be about to turn around.
3. Comoros – 33.6 GHI
Comoros, located off the East coast of Africa, is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean. The people of Comoros are victims of poverty as a result of the nation’s history of political violence. Since gaining independence in 1975, the country has undergone several coups, halting its development. The island’s resources are limited, and its primary exports of vanilla, perfume essence and cloves are often subject to trade imbalance and fluctuating prices. The nation relies strongly on foreign aid and on the remittances sent over by Cormorans living and working abroad.
2. Eritrea – 35 GHI
Situated in the Horn of Africa, Eritrea ranks second on our list. Hunger in Eritrea can be linked principally to its long history of conflict. The Eritrean people approved independence from the Ethiopian Federation in 1993 – however, the country has since entered into conflict with Yemen and further disputes with Ethiopia. Since independence, Isaias Afwerki has been the nation’s only president, imposing an autocratic and repressive rule that promotes Eritrea as a military force. Currently the country is at peace but it faces long years of economic and infrastructural reconstruction. However, it seems that Eritrea’s future is looking bright: while it’s one of the poorest in the world, it’s one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The country is rich in natural resources such as gold, copper and granite. It’s hoped that effective management of these resources will help to sharply curb hunger levels in Eritrea in coming years.
1. Burundi – GHI 38.8 GHI
With over 60% of the country’s population deemed undernourished, The Republic of Burundi is considered the world’s hungriest nation. The central African country has been ranked one of the world’s top 5 poorest countries, and has been afflicted by a wide range of challenges such as HIV/Aids, corruption, increased political instability and ethnic civil unrest (especially since 1990). To make matters worse, poor access to education means that the country’s youth is challenged in the task of bringing about significant development in the future. The country is highly vulnerable to natural disasters which contributes to further nutrition instability. The UN started intervening in 1993 – first through efforts at peace-keeping, and then through reconstruction projects. Today, 42% of Burundi’s national income is from foreign aid.