What is the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index?
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.
Watch this introductory film…
What is hunger and undernutrition?
Hunger and undernutrition are not the same thing. Hunger is the result of an empty stomach. Hunger makes people more susceptible to disease and thus leads to increased illness and death.
Undernutrition is related to, though subtly different from, hunger. Undernutrition results from both a critical lack of nutrients in people’s diets and a weakened immune system.
Undernutrition is not only a consequence of hunger, but can also exist in the absence of hunger, and can be caused by non-food factors.
The impact of hunger and undernutrition
In developing countries, hunger and undernutrition have hugely detrimental social and economic effects and thwart efforts to reduce poverty. For example when faced with hunger, families can be forced to sell vital possessions, such as farming tools, in order to buy food. Selling assets often perpetuates vulnerability to hunger.
Moreover, hunger can mean that children (particularly girls) are taken out of school so they can work, may cause communities to leave their homes and, at worst, leads to permanent destitution, prostitution, and child trafficking. Hunger also contributes to the onset of armed conflict.
Undernutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life (from conception until the age of two) has lifelong and largely irreversible effects because it impairs a child’s physical and mental development. Undernutrition increases the risk of chronic diseases and premature death in adulthood. It affects people’s lifelong ability to learn, be economically productive, earn income and sustain their livelihoods, and thus perpetuates poverty. In short, hunger and undernutrition undermine all aspects of development.
Why measure commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition?
Hunger and undernutrition are amongst the most persistent global development challenges. At the global level, insufficient progress has been made towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 1. Global numbers of undernourished people have been static at 870 million for the past 5 years and the prevalence of stunting has remained high in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa at around 40%. One in eight people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Undernutrition contributes to 2.6 million deaths of children under five each year – one third of the global total.
There are many reasons for insufficient progress in reducing hunger and undernutrition. One of these is a “lack of political will” or political prioritisation. Strong and high level political commitment is essential to prioritise the fight against hunger and undernutrition.
HANCI measures political commitment to reducing hunger and undernutrition, among both developing and developed countries. Our hope is that this will:
- Enable civil society to exert greater pressure on governments and international policy makers to take action
- Encourage governments to evaluate their own efforts and to prioritise appropriate action
If we can achieve these goals we believe we can make a real contribution to increasing and intensifying action to reduce 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.
IDS is grateful for the contributions of our partners in producing the index. In particular Action Aid Bangladesh, Rural Net Associates (Zambia) and Mirriam Muhome (Malawi).