India tops world hunger list with 194 million people

Higher economic growth has not been fully translated into higher food consumption, let alone better diets overall.”

India is home to 194.6 million undernourished people, the highest in the world, according to the annual report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released on Thursday.

This translates into over 15 per cent of India’s population, exceeding China in both absolute numbers and proportion of malnourished people in the country’s population.

“Higher economic growth has not been fully translated into higher food consumption, let alone better diets overall, suggesting that the poor and hungry may have failed to benefit much from overall growth,” says the report The State of Food Insecurity in the World.

The report suggests that this is a result of growth not being inclusive. “Rural people make up a high percentage of the hungry and malnourished in developing countries, and efforts to promote growth in agriculture and the rural sector can be an important component of a strategy for promoting inclusive growth.”

There has however been a significant reduction in the proportion of undernourished people in India — by 36 per cent — from 1990-92. In India, the extended food distribution programme has contributed to a positive outcome, the FAO says.

795 million globally

Around the world, 795 million people — or around one in nine — are undernourished. Asia and the Pacific account for almost 62 per cent of this section. Yet, the trends are positive, with a decrease in the prevalence of people with undernourishment — from 18.6 pc in 1990-92 to 10.9 percent in 2014-16 worldwide.

Children faring better

Southern Asia, which has historically had the highest number of underweight children below five years of age, also happens to be a region that has made big strides in reducing malnutrition among children.

According to the statistics, the prevalence of underweight children declined from 49.2 per cent in 1990 to 30 per cent in 2013. A host of factors can contribute to children being underweight, not just deficiency in calories or protein, the report says. Poor hygiene, disease or limited access to clean water can also contribute to the body’s inability to absorb nutrients from food, manifested finally in nutrient deficits such as stunting and wasting.

The report cautioned that the reasons for undernourishment should be viewed against the backdrop of a “challenging global environment.” Factors include “volatile commodity prices, higher food and energy prices, and rising unemployment and underemployment.” The global recession in 2008, natural disasters, political instability in various regions of the world, and civil strife were also cited as hindering food security.

 Post Source: The Hindu

Wall of Kindness

With the addition of a few hooks and a splash of paint, walls across Iranare being reinvented as part of an outdoor charity initiative in which strangers leave goods they no longer want for those who need them.

The message above a row of hooks reads “Wall of Kindness”. It is a place where passersby are invited to “leave what you do not need” or “take it if you need”. Similar messages have turned up throughout the country as Iranians take matters into their own hands to help homeless people.

In the southern city of Shiraz’s Ghadamgah street, a few coats, jackets and a pair of jeans are hung on the hooks of a wall of kindness painted blue. In Kermanshah, in the west of the country, a wall full of women’s clothes has been covered with plastic to protect them from rain, and beneath the clothes is a shelf of shoes. In the eastern town of Birjand, a young girl wearing worn-out shoes returns smiling with a new pair, albeit second-hand.

It is not clear who started the trend, but in a country where use of social media networks is widespread, it has swiftly caught on. In the capital, Tehran, local municipalities have welcomed the move, promising to set up more kindness walls.

Iranian media have published pictures of walls in various provinces. “The old tales of kindness about people of old cities have come to reality today in a century struck by brutality and indifference,” said the reformist Shargh daily.

In Tehran alone more than 15,000 people are homeless, often referred to askartonkhab – those who sleep in cardboard boxes. According to Reza Jahangiri, a Tehran municipality official, 80% of them are drug addicts and at least 15% are women. Iran neighbours Afghanistan, a leading producer and supplier of drugs, and its young population, hit hard by unemployment and inflation, has easy access to a wide variety of illicit substances.

In Tehran, some shops have reportedly put out refrigerators and invited people to leave food they do not want for homeless people to take. At least one bakery has put out a box of bread for those who cannot afford it. “Bread is free for those who can’t pay,” reads a sign on the box.

Civil society in Iran is strong, and a number of non-governmental charities have had a significant impact recently, including the Mahak society, a Tehran-based organisation founded by the philanthropist Saeedeh Ghods that supports children with cancer.

Some charitable organisations have been hampered by sanctions imposed by the west on Iran. One unintended consequence was that imports of life-saving medicine were made difficult as international banks refused to handle any money associated with the country.

With sanctions expected to be lifted this weekend, there are rising hopes that such charities will once again be able to work as normal.

Post Source: theguardian