GHI: Hunger at serious level in Bangladesh

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People waiting for food aid at Motijheel area of Dhaka on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh ranks 75th in the 2020 Global Hunger Index, and is considered highly vulnerable to a worsening of food and nutrition insecurity caused by the overlapping health, economic, and environmental crises this year

Bangladesh is among the 40 countries that are considered to have “serious” hunger levels, according to the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI).

Bangladesh has ranked 75th among 107 countries in the 2020 GHI, with a score of 20.4, rising from last year’s rank of No 88.

Launched on Friday, the 2020 GHI has also identified 11 countries with “alarming” levels of hunger. 

The GHI is an annual global report jointly published by Concern Worldwide and its partner Welthungerhilfe.

This year’s GHI launch takes place against the backdrop of a global pandemic, which threatens 13 years of progress in the fight against hunger.

The Global Hunger Index report categorizes countries into moderate, serious, or alarming hunger levels. 

In the virtual launch marking World Food Day, the keynote address was delivered by Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program. 

This was followed by a discussion by a panel of global experts, including Hasina Rahman, assistant country director of Concern Worldwide, Bangladesh; Dr Robyn Alders, senior consulting fellow, Chatham House Centre for Universal Health; and Dr Sinead Walsh, deputy director general, Irish Aid.

Hasina Rahman said: “In Bangladesh, we are now looking at a possible doubling of the country’s poverty rate this year for the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Furthermore, Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to a worsening of food and nutrition insecurity caused by the overlapping health, economic, and environmental crises of 2020.

“At this crucial moment, we must act together to reshape our food systems as fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly in order to address the current crises, prevent other health and food crises from occurring, and chart a path to Zero Hunger by 2030,” she stressed in the panel discussion.

The official data used in calculating the 2020 rankings does not yet reflect the damaging impact which Covid-19 has had on countries.

“Even before Covid-19, the world was already off track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. That negative trajectory has been forcefully exacerbated by the events of this year and the economic downturn is affecting every corner of the world,” Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Dominic MacSorley said. 

“The phenomenal impact of these multiple crises – combined with the ongoing effects of climate change and conflict – is rapidly escalating food and nutrition insecurity for millions, especially for those who were already most vulnerable,” he added.

Experts argued in the GHI report launch that only by taking both an integrated and holistic approach to global and environmental health will it be possible to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.

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