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Global hunger report: the traditional separation of relief and development efforts is not working

The 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report shows that the world has made some progress in reducing hunger since 1990, but still has far to go.The 2013 Global Hunger Index found that global hunger levels are still unacceptably high and that 19 countries had levels of hunger that were "extremely alarming" or "alarming". Resilience was the theme of the report, which stated that the international development community was not doing enough to increase resilience in vulnerable communities. From the foreword:

"It has become clear that it is not enough to help the poor and vulnerable survive short-term shocks. Because they are among those hit hardest by shocks and least able to cope, the constant exposure to manmade or natural shocks means they find it hard to improve their lot. Poor and vulnerable populations need more resilience."

One of the authors of the report, IFPRI Research Fellow, Derek Headey, said that to improve resilience there needed to be improved monitoring and measurement of resilience, there needed to be closer cooperation between those who work on humanitarian relief and those who conduct long-term development, and resilience-building needed to be incorporated into development strategies.

Poor people and countries are particularly vulnerable to shocks. Globally, the number of conflicts and natural disasters have increased in the last 20 years and so have food price levels and volatility.

The traditional approach to dealing with shocks is emergency aid – often only when people are already starving – , with separate development efforts focused on mitigating stresses and reducing long-term vulnerability. According to Concern Worldwide, "the persistent vulnerability of regions - such as the Sahel and the Horn of Africa - suggests that the traditional separation of relief and development efforts is not working."

"We must focus on those living in extreme poverty, learn the lessons of the past and be clear what measures are needed to enable the very poorest to become more resilient in the long-term." said Concern’s CEO Dominic MacSorley.

The 2013 Global Hunger Index. Interactive map.There is good news in the report. The number of chronically undernourished has fallen from 870 million in 2010-12 to 842 million in 2011-13. The fall – of just over 3% – was described as "slight" in an IFPRI document but it still means 28 million fewer people chronically undernourished.

Nevertheless, the pace of change is slow given the global consensus among politicians and economists about the urgency and value of tackling hunger. With the right investment, those numbers could fall much faster.

Last year, a group of the world's leading economists said that about $100 per child would be enough to reduce chronic under-nutrition by 36 percent in developing countries. By spending $3 billion, more than 100 million children could avoid stunting and malnourishment, they found.

Infographic: 2013 Global Hunger Index. Concern Worldwide.

The 2013 Global Hunger Index, released for the eighth year by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide, calls for greater resilience-building efforts to boost food and nutrition security.

The Index identifies hunger levels and hot spots across 120 developing countries and countries in transition. It scores countries based on three equally weighted indicators: (1) the proportion of people who are undernourished, (2) the proportion of children under five who are under weight, and (3) the mortality rate of children under five.

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