Bangladesh sees drop in hunger severity

Though Bangladesh made progress against undernourishment, child wasting, and child mortality, it is still lagging behind in "child stunting".


October 14, 2022

DHAKA – Hunger severity in Bangladesh has reduced, according to Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022.

Bangladesh has progressed to “moderate” from “serious” status and has ranked 84th among 121 countries, said the report unveiled yesterday.

Among the neighbours, Sri Lanka and Nepal fared better securing 64th and 81st spots.

Pakistan was 99th, India 107th, and Afghanistan 109th, according to the report jointly published by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe.

The report gave countries scores between zero and 100 with zero being the best.

Even though Bangladesh secured “moderate” status with its score of 19.6, it is still borderline.

According to the GHI Index, a score of 10-19.9 refers to “moderate” while 20-34.9 means “serious” status.

Scores between 35 and 49.9 are “alarming” hunger while a score below 9.9 shows hunger level is “low”.

Bangladesh has made progress in the last two decades in hunger status. As per the Index, the country was in “serious” status between 2000 and 2014. It scored 33.9 in 2000 and 26.3 in 2014.

The report says, “This year’s index brings us face to face with a grim reality. The toxic cocktail of conflict, climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic had already left millions exposed to food price shocks and vulnerable to further crises.

“Now the war in Ukraine — with its knock-on effects on global supplies of and prices for food, fertiliser, and fuel — is turning a crisis into a catastrophe.”

Russia and Ukraine account for some 12 percent of total calories traded in the world. Some 50 nations that rely on Russia and Ukraine for the bulk of their wheat imports, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey, have been scrambling to find alternative suppliers, it says.

“The fallout of this disruption could be devastating,” it read.

When the price of food ticks upward, it does not mean simply that people must tighten their belts or pay more for their meals. For those already on the brink of famine, it could literally mean starvation.

Food inflation can unsettle markets and even precipitate the overthrow of governments, as it did in Sri Lanka, whose experience serves as a warning to the rest of the world, the report says.

Though Bangladesh made progress against undernourishment, child wasting, and child mortality, it is still lagging behind in “child stunting”.

Contacted, Khaleda Islam, director at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, said the government has a lot of to do to address child stunting.

She said there was no possibility of famine.

“If the situation deteriorates further, the government would need to widen its social safety net programmes. The existing social safety net programmes are sufficient to address the current situation,” she added.

In its recommendations, the report says governments must respect, protect, and fulfill the right to food, which should be enshrined in the law and supported by mechanisms for redressing grievances.

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