2019 Global Hunger Index: The Challenge of Hunger and Climate Change


The 2019 Global Hunger Index: The Challenge of Hunger and Climate Change is a report published jointly by Concern Worldwide, Ireland, and Welthungerhilfe, Germany, in October 2019. The annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) report was first published in 2006. This 14th edition emphasises the link between hunger and climate change.

The GHI “is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.” Quoting the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the report states that ‘food deprivation’ or ‘undernourishment’ refers to “the consumption of too few calories to provide the minimum amount of dietary energy that each individual requires to live a healthy and productive life, given that person’s sex, age, stature, and physical activity level.”

The GHI is calculated using four indicators: ‘undernourishment’ (the share of the population whose caloric intake is insufficient), ‘child wasting’ (the share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition), ‘child stunting’ (the share of children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition), and ‘child mortality’ (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

This report uses data collected by various United Nations agencies – including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund – and other organisations such as the World Bank.


  1. India ranked 102 – with a GHI value of 30.3 – in the 2019 Global Hunger Index, of a total of 117 countries. Countries with the highest GHI values included Central African Republic (53.6), Yemen (45.9) and Chad (44.2). Countries with the lowest GHI values – of less than 5 – included Belarus, Bulgaria and Chile.

  2. India had a GHI value of 38.8 in 2000, 38.9 in 2005, 32 in 2010 and 30.3 in 2019.

  3. Sri Lanka (17.1) ranked 66 in the 2019 GHI list, Nepal (20.8) ranked 73, Bangladesh (25.8) ranked 88 and Pakistan (28.5) ranked 94.

  4. The report states that in India, just 9.6 per cent of all children between 6 and 23 months are fed a ‘minimum acceptable diet’ – this is defined as “a standard that combines minimum dietary diversity and minimum meal frequency, with different recommendations for breastfed and non-breastfed children, who need to receive milk or milk products as a substitute for breast milk.”

  5. At 20.8 per cent, “India’s child wasting rate is extremely high” notes the report, the highest wasting rate of any country for which data or estimates were available.

  6. In 2019, the combined GHI score for all countries was 20. In 2000, it was 29. This reflects a decline of 31 per cent between 2000 and 2019.

  7. Regions with the highest 2019 GHI scores are South Asia (29.3) and Africa ‘South of the Sahara’ (28.4). These scores indicate ‘serious' levels of hunger. The ‘GHI Severity Scale’ categorises countries into ‘low’ (less than 9.9), ‘moderate’ (10-19.9), ‘serious’ (20-34.9), ‘alarming’ (35-49.9) and ‘extremely alarming’ (more than 50), according to their GHI score.

  8. According to the 2019 GHI, the Central African Republic (53.6) is the only country that suffers from a level of hunger that is ‘extremely alarming’. Chad (44.2), Madagascar (41.5), Yemen (45.9), and Zambia (38.1) suffer from levels of hunger that are ‘alarming. 43 of the 117 countries that were ranked have ‘serious’ levels of hunger, including India.

  9. The report notes that as a result of inequalities within borders, hunger and undernutrition persist even in countries where the national averages are relatively robust.

  10. A large number of rural households (in some countries, up to 80 per cent of households) depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, observes the report, and “it is the regions in which these populations reside that are most at risk of climate change–induced hunger and food insecurity.”

  11. The report observes that manifestations of climate change impact food security and hunger – directly and indirectly – through changes in the production, availability, access, quality and utilisation of food.

  12. Citing The Impact of Disasters and Crises on Agriculture and Food Security 2017, a report by the FAO, this report states that the number of hungry people has been growing since 2015, due to “persistent instability in conflict-ridden regions, economic slowdowns in more peaceful regions, and adverse climate events.”

  13. Citing the same FAO document, this report notes that the number of extreme weather-related disasters has doubled since the early 1990s. This has affected the productivity of major crops, causing hikes in food prices and income losses.

  14. Quoting Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability – a report by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), this report says that globally, the average sea level has risen by 16–21 centimetres since 1900.

  15. Citing the same IPCC report, it states that 1.8 billion people – nearly a quarter of the world population – live in water-stressed areas, and this number is expected to grow to nearly half of the world population by 2030. Climate change affects water resources for food by altering the rates of precipitation and evaporation as well as groundwater levels.

    Focus and Factoids by Rounak Bhat.


Klaus von Grebmer, Jill Bernstein, Fraser Patterson, Miriam Wiemers, Réiseal Ní Chéilleachair, Connell Foley, Seth Gitter, Kierstin Ekstrom, and Heidi Fritschel; guest author: Rupa Mukerji


Concern Worldwide, Ireland; Welthungerhilfe, Germany


Oct, 2019