By Jeffrey Lamoureux
The International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) recently released Global Hunger Index 2011 contains a wealth of information about the state of hunger across the developing world. Combining measures of undernourishment, underweight children, and child mortality, the study creates a picture of the severity of hunger on a nation-by-nation basis. The measure is designed to help policymakers focus attention on the regions that need it most. According to the latest report, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have the highest levels of hunger, and progress over the last 20 years in these regions has been uneven.
Ghana was the only country in sub-Saharan Africa among the 10 best performers in improving their Global Hunger Index (GHI) score since ranking began in 1990. As rated by the index, Ghana has reduced the scale of hunger within its borders by 59 percent. IFPRI attributes this success to sustained investments in agriculture, rural development, education, and health, specifically immunizations. For his efforts on these fronts, former president John Kufuor was awarded the 2011 World Food Prize.
By all accounts, Ghana’s efforts, which included outreach to get more information to farmers, the provision of agricultural inputs, and infrastructure investments, had ripple effects that benefitted all levels of society. The government launched a program to improve the provision of food at its primary schools, using local produce to provide a hot meal to students, which significantly increased school enrollment. Their efforts were conducted alongside political reforms to expand the country’s democratic freedoms, supporting a virtuous circle that has pushed Ghana into the ranks of the world’s middle-income countries. Ghana today is a fast growing and politically stable country, a leading example of what is possible on the continent.