Other than India, only three other countries, Djibouti, Sri Lanka and South Sudan have more than 20% of their children wasted.
Depicting the country’s high proportions of malnourishment, the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) has ranked India 100 among 119 countries, three places down from its last year’s position at 97. GHI data further showed that more than a fifth (21%) of the children in the country are wasted, with low weight for height. Other than India, only in three other countries, Djibouti, Sri Lanka and South Sudan are more than 20% children wasted.
The report released by Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) also showed that India’s this year’s GHI falls in the “serious” category. With a score of 34.1 out of 100, India shares its 100th position at the index with Djibouti and Rawanda (0 is the best possible score and 100 the worst).
According to the report, India’s rank at 2017 GHI is worse than its neighbors, Nepal (72), Myanmar (77), Bangladesh (88), Sri Lanka (84) and China (29). However, Pakistan ranked even below India and held the 106th spot. Though being under several international conflicts, North Korea (93) and Iraq (78) ranked much better India in the hunger parameter.
Raising the alarm on the “serious” hunger problems in the country, the report mentioned, “given that three quarters of South Asia’s population reside in India, the situation in that country strongly influences South Asia’s regional score.”
Despite the government two national programmes on nutrition, the Integrated Child Development Service and the National Health Mission, India’s low rank make it evident that the initiative failed to reach the mass.
Also adding a growing need of concern for child nutrition in India, the latest 2015-16 National Family Health Survey (NFHS) showed that the availability of solid food with breast milk for young children in the country declined to 42.7% from 52.7 %. Also only 9.6 % of the children in the age-group of six to 23 months received adequate diet. While sanitation plays a major role in improving nutrition, the data showed that less than 48.4 % households in the country have access to proper sanitation facilities. The NFHS data also showed that one in three (35.7%) of Indian children, under the age of five are underweight, while another 38.4% are stunted.