ISLAMABAD: With 20.3 per cent of its population undernourished, Pakistan has been ranked 94 on the Global Hunger Index 2019, eight spots ahead of neighbour and arch-rival India.
The index is based on four indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality.
The prevalence of wasting and stunting in children less than five years fell to 7.1 per cent and 37.6 per cent respectively. The mortality rate of under-five-year olds also decreased to 7.5 per cent in 2019.
Where Pakistan scored 28.5 on the overall index, India ranked 102 out of a total of 117 qualifying countries with a score of 30.3.
Among other regional countries, China was the highest-ranked at 25 (total score 6.5), followed by Iran at 31 (7.9), Sri Lanka at 66 (17.1), and Bangladesh at 88 (25.8).
At 108, Afghanistan was the lowest-ranked with a total score of 33.8.
Child wasting – children under five who have low weight for their height, reflecting undernutrition – was extremely high in India at 20.8 per cent.
India’s was termed “the highest wasting rate of any country” for which data or estimates were available to the GHI. India’s child stunting rate at 37.9 per cent is also categorised as very high in terms of its public health significance.
The report found that only 9.6 per cent of all children between six and 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet in India.
At least 43 of the 117 countries ranked in the index had “serious” hunger levels. But the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide fell “on the cusp of the moderate and serious categories”.
The report also found the number of extreme weather-related disasters doubled since the early 1990s, reducing crop yields and contributing to food price hikes.