New UN study examines hunger severity within Nepal

19 August 2009

Hunger rates are most severe in the western regions of Nepal, which already ranks near the bottom of the global hunger index, according to a new report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which is examining food insecurity levels within the South Asian nation.

Hunger rates are most severe in the western regions of Nepal, which already ranks near the bottom of the global hunger index, according to a new report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which is examining food insecurity levels within the South Asian nation.

According to the global hunger index (GHI) developed by the non-governmental organization (NGO) known as the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Nepal ties with Laos for 57th out of 88 countries, with a score of 20.6. Countries with levels under five, such as those in Western Europe, are considered to have low levels of hunger and are not included in the rankings.

The new WFP study found that levels were close to or topped 30 in the Far- and Mid-Western Hill and Mountain regions of Nepal, “pointing to an extremely alarming situation.”

In particular, the score of 40.17 for the Mid-Western Mountain area is only slightly better than the 42.7 level for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has the worst GHI in the world.

Most of the country's 15 sub-regions fall within the alarming category, and none are categorized as either moderate or low-hunger. “This underscores the seriousness of the food security situation in Nepal,” WFP said.

The assessment pointed to undernourishment, high percentages of underweight children, poverty, economic activity, agricultural productivity and access to health services driving hunger scores down.

While boosting economic growth is urgently needed, that alone is not enough, WFP warned.

“There is an urgent need to invest solidly in direct nutrition interventions to address the huge issue of child malnutrition,” the agency stressed. “This includes investing in the health sector, increasing nutritional awareness, improving behavioural practices such as hand washing, breast feeding and water treatment, and providing access to proper sanitation facilities to rural populations.”

 

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