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Most undernourished countries

  • Most undernourished countries

    The facts may be hard to read, but understanding the vast reach of hunger on humanity is key to understanding many factors of today’s global politics. According to the World Food Programme, “815 million people—one in ninestill go to bed on an empty stomach each night.”

    Using statistics from OurWorldInData.org and various other NGOs, Stacker compiled the 30 countries with the most severe undernourishment. For the analysis, Stacker referenced the Global Hunger Index, a scale of 0 (no hunger) to 100 (starving). A score of 50 or above is defined as “extremely alarming”; 3550 as “alarming”; 2035 as “serious”; 1020 as “moderate”; and under 10 as “low.” Children’s health is also a strong factor in ranking, taking into account children under the age of 5 who are underweight for their age (undernourished), underweight for their height (wasting), or too short for their age (stunted growth). Food accessibility, regional climates, and geopolitical factors are outlined for each country to help explain the state of malnourishment among affected populations.

    Read on to learn about the challenges facing the most undernourished countries in the world. 

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  • #30. Malawi

    - Global Hunger Index: 27.2
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 20.7% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 16.7% (2014)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 42.4% (2014)

    Malawi has faced a hunger crisis for decades, a series of floods and droughts largely blamed for lack of access to quality food. More recently, Malawi Agriculture Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha said that drought and crop-eating armyworms caused Malawi’s maize output to decline by more than 19% in the 2017–18 farming year.

  • #29. Laos

    - Global Hunger Index: 27.5
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 18.5% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 26.5% (2011)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 43.8% (2011)

    Despite the fact that the percentage of hungry people in Laos fell from 33% to 23% over the last decade, the small South East Asian country is still considered to be facing a serious food crisis. Laos’ issues with hunger have been attributed to its geography—the scattered and remote nature of thousands of small villages makes access to food very difficult. In addition, when low yields of rice on steep hillsides occur during the year, families who subsist on this staple don’t have enough to nourish themselves.

  • #28. Burkina Faso

    - Global Hunger Index: 27.6
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 20.7% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 26.2% (2010)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 35.1% (2010)

    Erratic rains in the past year have caused low crop yields in Burkina Faso, located in an already-arid area under the Sahara Desert. On top of this, those who would normally receive food aid will be hard to reach as the country faces unrest from a building Jihadist uprising.

  • #27. North Korea

    - Global Hunger Index: 28.2
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 41.6% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 15.2% (2012)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 27.9% (2012)

    Last year, the United Nations reported that in North Korea, “10.5 million people, or 41% of the total population, are undernourished.” This is likely due to the country’s political and economic isolation, and the many sanctions imposed by the rest of the world. Frequent flooding and drought have exacerbated the situation in the country, as well.  

  • #26. Guinea

    - Global Hunger Index: 28.6
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 16.4% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 16.3% (2012)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 35.8% (2012)

    Guinea is one of the smallest African nations, but enjoys the highest GDP per capita income on the continent. Famine and hunger still plague Guinea’s residents, however. According to the World Food Programme, the malnutrition issues and food insecurity were exacerbated by the devastating Ebola outbreak in 2014.

  • #25. Mali

    - Global Hunger Index: 28.6
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 5.0% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 27.9% (2006)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 38.5% (2006)

    A mix of natural disasters, rising conflict and violence in Mali have contributed to its serious state of malnutrition and hunger. The country would see drought every 10 to 15 years in previous decades; however, there have been three in the past decade alone. Since 75% of the country feeds itself on subsistence drops, citizens rely heavily on the weather to produce their food for the year. The country is also still suffering the effects of the fighting between French forces and militant Islamist groups in 2013.

  • #24. Tajikistan

    - Global Hunger Index: 28.7
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 33.2% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 13.3% (2012)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 26.8% (2012)

    Named the poorest former Soviet nation, Tajikistan faces a serious famine crisis. According to the WFP, consistently harsh winters and climate change make it hard for the country to grow crops, and only 7% of the land in Tajikistan is farmable to begin with. According to the Deputy Country Director in Tajikistan for the WFP, “Tajikistan is a landlocked country and a net importer of food, which means that the country has been particularly hard-hit by the high food and fuel prices."

  • #23. Tanzania

    - Global Hunger Index: 28.8
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 32.1% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 13.6% (2011)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 34.8% (2011)

    Reuters reported earlier this year that “Tanzanian think tank Twaweza found that 78% of people had suffered food shortages in the past three months,” Nevertheless, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has denied that there has been any sort of hunger crisis in his nation. The situation can in part be traced back to major drought conditions in East Africa, which have sent the price of staples such as maize and sorghum soaring. The price of maize has doubled over the last two years.

  • #22. Mozambique

    - Global Hunger Index: 30.5
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 25.3% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 15.6% (2011)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 43.1% (2011)

    The WFP calls Mozambique “one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world,” with extreme weather not limited to drought and flooding near major river basins and “poorly-drained urban settlements.” This factor has in large part kept the country insecure in terms of access to food and ability to grow crops, especially when two-thirds of residents live in areas that are highly susceptible to cyclones and storms.

  • #21. Guinea-Bissau

    - Global Hunger Index: 30.6
    - Prevalence of undernourishment: 20.7% of population (2015)
    - Children under 5 who are underweight for their age: 17.0% (2014)
    - Children under 5 with stunted height for their age: 27.6% (2014)

    According to the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI), which ranks a nation’s government’s willingness and work to fight famine, Guinea-Bissau ranks 44th out of 45, just surpassing Liberia. The Guardian also found that despite facing a hunger crisis, “Guinea-Bissau fails to invest in agriculture, despite committing to invest 10% of its budget in agriculture as part of the African Union's Maputo declaration.”

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