Report: Armed conflict keeps people hungry worldwide

By Whitney Forman-Cook

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 - Hunger in developing countries has fallen 27 percent since 2000, but still persists at alarming or serious levels in 52 countries, according to a report that argues hunger and famine are linked to armed conflict.

The 2015 Global Hunger Index (GHI) - released Thursday by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) - is the tenth report in an annual series that tracks the state of hunger across 117 of the world's 196 nations. The GHI identifies hunger “levels” by comparing four nutrition indicators: undernourishment, wasting, stunting, and child mortality.

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Hunger scores for developed countries, like the U.S., Australia, Japan, and many in Europe, were not calculated, and some countries in Africa and the Middle East did not provide data to IFPRI to analyze.

Based on the GHI formula's findings, the Central African Republic and Chad had the highest hunger levels - and predictably so, according to the authors, because the countries also are among the most violent and politically unstable in the world.

Since conflict is strongly associated with severe hunger, more effective humanitarian assistance to nations and regions at war is crucial, the report says.

The report gave Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda - countries that were engaged in civil wars during the 1990s and 2000s but have seen substantial decreases in their hunger levels post-conflict - as examples of the link between conflict and hunger.

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Alex de Waal, the executive director of the World Peace Foundation, explored this link in an essay that was included in the GHI.  In a release, he said “The world has enough food, enough logistics, enough knowledge to end severe hunger. Achieving (food security) is a matter of political will only.”

The report also calls for a global response to the current migrant crisis. “We need a global response to support those fleeing conflict and persecution within or outside their home countries,” the authors wrote.

Other key findings from the 2015 GHI:

      Seventeen countries have been able to reduce their hunger scores by at least half since 2000. They include Azerbaijan, Brazil, Croatia, Mongolia, Peru and Venezuela.

      One in nine people in the world are chronically undernourished, and more than 1 in 4 children are “stunted” - or too short for their age due to nutritional deficiencies.

      Nearly half of all child deaths under age five - of which there are about 3.1 million every year - are due to malnutrition.

      An average of 42,500 people per day fled their homes last year, and approximately 59.5 million people total are displaced by conflict worldwide - more than ever before.

      Although refugees are more visible, 87 percent of those affected by conflict do not flee their homes - and tend to fare worse than those displaced.

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