The report indicates that the overall state of hunger in developing countries has improved since 1990, falling by 39 percent, according to the 2014 GHI. Despite progress made, the level of hunger in the world is still "serious," with 805 million people continuing to go hungry, according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The report brings new insights to the global debate on where to focus efforts in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. The global average obscures dramatic differences across regions and countries. Regionally, the highest GHI scores-and therefore the highest hunger levels-are in Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia, which have also experienced the greatest absolute improvements since 2005. South Asia saw the steepest absolute decline in GHI scores since 1990. Progress in addressing child underweight was the main factor behind the improved GHI score for the region since 1990. The report provides more insight on countries' progress and levels of hunger.
The 2014 GHI report reflects on the hidden hunger problem-also called micronutrient deficiencies-. This shortage in essential vitamins and minerals can have long-term, irreversible health effects as well as socioeconomic consequences that can erode a person's well-being and development. The report then offers possible solutions to hidden hunger including: long term food-based approaches: dietary diversification, fortification of commercial foods; and bio fortification. Short term, vitamin and mineral supplements can help vulnerable populations combat hidden hunger. Along with these solutions, behavioural change communication is critical to educate people about health services, sanitation and hygiene, and caring practices, as well as the need for greater empowerment of women at all levels. Moreover, governments must demonstrate political commitment to prioritize the fight against malnutrition. Governments and multilateral institutions need to invest in and develop human and financial resources, increase coordination, and ensure transparent monitoring and evaluation to build capacity on nutrition; governments must also create a regulatory environment that values good nutrition. This could involve creating incentives for private sector companies to develop more nutritious seeds or foods.
Overall, transparent accountability systems are needed in order to ensure that investments contribute to public health, while standardized data collection on micronutrient deficiencies can build the evidence base on the efficacy and cost effectiveness of food-based solutions. These and other recommendations set out in this report are some of the steps needed to eliminate hidden hunger. To start reading, click here.