Today the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) released a new report called the Global Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index which is the first index to look at government commitment to tackling hunger and nutrition, specifically looking at policies, legal frameworks and public spending on hunger and nutrition. The report examines both hunger, or not having enough food and undernutrition, or not having enough nutrients to be healthy, separately. It looks at interventions such as provision of food rations, which alleviate hunger but do little to tackle underlying factors contributing to undernutrition, separately from nutrition interventions. It also examines nutrition interventions, which include policies to improve public health, sanitation, infant and young child care practices which reduce chronic undernutrition, which is caused by a complex interaction of disease and poor food availability.
The report looks at 45 countries, and found that sustained economic growth does not lead to an automatic interest in reducing hunger and nutrition. The report specifically examines 22 indicators of political commitment to reduce undernutrition and ranked the countries based in their commitment. The report found that countries with high levels of economic growth such as India and Nigeria have not chosen prioritized reducing hunger and under-nutrition where as low income countries, such as Malawi and Madagascar have high levels of political commitment to reducing hunger and under-nutrition.
This report is particularly interesting because of its goal to increase accountability and transparency, allowing for grassroots advocacy by citizens of each country, making it easy for individuals in the global south to see what their government has promised and how it compares to what other countries governments’ have promise. The hope is that this report can be used by individuals and organizations to hold their governments to account and demand for better policies to tackle hunger and malnutrition.