2019 Global Hunger Index: Climate Change An Urgent Threat

October 15, 2019

The 2019 Global Hunger Index issues new data on the world’s hungriest countries.

NEW YORK, NY, October 15, 2019 — Today, international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide and its German NGO partner Welthungerhilfe released the 14th annual Global Hunger Index (GHI). The report found that progress has been made in reducing hunger, but hard-won gains are now being threatened, and severe hunger persists in many regions, in part as a result of climate change — the theme of this year’s GHI. It calls for large-scale action and radical transformation to address the interlinked challenges of hunger and climate change.

Concern Worldwide U.S. CEO Colleen Kelly said, “The 2019 GHI shows that the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030 is under threat, and climate change is one of the primary causes.” She continued, “Hunger stubbornly persists in many countries and is actually increasing in others. Multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, and approximately 45 countries are set to fail to achieve low levels of hunger by 2030. Not only is hunger increasing, but many of these countries are also worst affected by climate change. This is completely unacceptable — and preventable.”

In her foreword to the GHI, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson said the report provided a timely illustration of how climate breakdown disrupts food systems “jeopardizing one of the most fundamental rights we all share as human beings — the right to adequate and sufficient food.”

Noting that the greatest impacts of climate change fall on those least responsible for it, she continued, “With the number of hungry people rising…we can no longer afford to regard the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement as voluntary…Instead, the full implementation of both has become imperative in order to secure a live-able world for our children and grandchildren. This requires a change of mind-set at the global political level.”

Climate change is affecting the global food system in ways that increase the threats to those who currently already suffer from hunger and undernutrition. Since the early 1990s, the number of extreme weather-related disasters — such as storms, droughts, fires and floods — have doubled, reducing yields of major crops while contributing to food price hikes and income losses.

On a global level, the prevalence of undernourishment (the percentage of the population without regular access to adequate calories), has stagnated since 2015, and the absolute number of people who are undernourished has actually risen from 785 million in 2015 to 822 million in 2018. The rise was greatest in countries in Africa South of the Sahara affected by conflict and drought.

Of the 117 countries ranked as part of the GHI, 43 have ‘serious’ levels of hunger. One country, the Central African Republic, suffers from a level of hunger that is ‘extremely alarming’ (the highest level on the GHI scale), while four countries — Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia — suffer from levels of hunger that are ‘alarming.’

Nine countries have higher scores today than in 2010: Central African Republic (CAR), Madagascar, Venezuela, Yemen, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Lebanon and Oman.

The report also notes that GHI scores could not be calculated for several countries due to inadequate data. In nine of these countries — Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria — hunger and undernutrition are causes of significant concern. In many of those countries, violent conflict, political unrest, and/or extreme poverty have precipitated food and nutrition insecurity.

The GHI includes a number of policy recommendations. These include: prioritizing resilience and adaptation among the most vulnerable groups and regions; better preparation for and response to disasters; the transformation of food systems and addressing of inequalities; action to mitigate climate change without compromising food and nutrition security; and the commitment to fair financing.

To read the 2019 Global Hunger Index report, click here.

Concern Worldwide U.S. is a non-governmental, international humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing suffering and working toward the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty. With more than 4,000 highly skilled and committed staff, Concern has an on-the-ground presence in 24 of the world’s poorest countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean — reaching more than 24 million people last year alone. Working in collaboration with communities, Concern saves lives every day through emergency response programs, and works to transform lives through longer-term solutions including: livelihoods and agriculture support; health and nutrition; climate resilience and disaster risk reduction; primary education; and water and sanitation.

Media Contact:
Anna Walsh
Pace Public Relations
[email protected]