Launched: Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI 2012) measuring political commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition in 45 developing countries.
New research shows that some of the poorest developing countries are showing the greatest political commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition
The Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) has been produced by the Institute of Development Studies’ (IDS) through funding by Irish Aid and UKAid and support from Transform Nutrition.
The Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) ranks governments on their political commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition. The index was created to provide greater transparency and public accountability by measuring what actions governments take, and what they fail to do, in addressing hunger and undernutrition.
One of the key findings from the first round of results from HANCI is that sustained economic growth does not guarantee that governments will make tackling hunger or undernutrition a priority. This may help explain why many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia remain blighted by high levels of hunger and undernutrition.
Globally hunger affects around 870 million people and undernutrition contributes to the deaths of 2.6 million children under five each year.
Lead HANCI researcher at IDS, Dr Dolf te Lintelo said: “The Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index shines a spot light on what governments are doing, or failing to do, towards addressing hunger and undernutrition. With millions of lives at stake it is essential that we create greater public accountability on this key development issue. Where high levels of political commitment exist, we could see dramatic decreases in the levels of illness and death caused by chronic hunger and to the irreversible damage to the physical and mental development of children caused by undernutrition. We hope that all those committed to combating hunger and undernutrition, whether in communities, NGOs or governments, will use HANCI as a rallying call for change.”
HANCI uniquely analyses government efforts on hunger and undernutrition, rather than just hunger and undernutrition levels themselves. Hunger and undernutrition are not the same thing and the policies and programmes needed to address them differ. Hunger is the result of an empty stomach whereas undernutrition may result from a lack of nutrients in people’s diets or illness caused by poor sanitation. So governments may support measures to improve sanitation to improve nutrition levels amongst children but this does little to reduce hunger. Likewise, emergency food aid may reduce hunger but it is not aimed at achieving balanced diets. The new index therefore measures performance on hunger and nutrition separately. It compares 45 countries’ performance on a total of 22 indicators of political commitment to reduce either hunger or undernutrition. These indicators span three areas of government: Policies and programmes designed to tackle undernutrition or hunger; legal frameworks, such as people’s rights to food and social security; and levels of public spending on agriculture and health.