Bangladesh has moved eight notches down to rank 84th among 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022, still surpassing neighbouring India (107th), Pakistan (99th) and Afghanistan (109th).
This year, the country has scored 19.6 in the index, which is considered a moderate level of hunger.
A higher score in the index implies a worsening hunger situation, whereas zero is the best score – indicating no hunger.
In the last edition of the global ranking published in 2021, Bangladesh ranked 76th out of 116 countries, with a score of 19.1.
In the last two decades, Bangladesh showed an improvement by 40% from a GHI score of 34.1 in 2000 but continued to be in the 'serious' category, the report said.
The GHI assigns the scores in five severity levels – low (9.9 or less), moderate (10.0-19.9), serious (20.0-34.9), alarming (35.0-49.9) and extremely alarming (50 or higher).
The latest index was published jointly on 13 October by international humanitarian organisation Concern Worldwide and Germany's Welthungerhilfe – one of the largest private aid organisations in the world.
The Global Hunger Index measures and tracks the hunger level globally, regionally and nationally to trigger actions for reducing hunger across the globe. The scoring process is based on four components – undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality.
The share of child wasting or acute undernutrition in Bangladesh decreased from 14.4% during 2012-2016 to 9.8% during 2017-2021, as per the report.
Bangladesh has shown the biggest improvement in curbing child stunting. From 2012 to 2021, the country reduced child stunting or chronic undernutrition by 8.2%.
Around 11.4% of the total population are experiencing undernourishment or insufficient calorie intake in between 2019 to 2021, a decrease by 2.7% from the previous period of 2013 to 2015.
Additionally, the country witnessed a 2.9% under-five mortality rate in 2020, suggesting an improvement of only 1.1% during the period. The report also mentions that undernourishment is an indicator of inadequate food supply and unhealthy environments.
Although Bangladesh has made considerable improvement in food security, as shown in the GHI, challenges remain.
"Persistent undernutrition represents a significant and complex barrier to building a thriving, prosperous country," said Gretta Fitzgerald, acting country director, Concern Worldwide in Bangladesh.
"There has been Covid-19 and exceptional increases in basic costs. For Bangladesh to continue on its positive trend of reducing malnutrition, robust measures must be taken to ensure that those who are most vulnerable to malnutrition are not left behind," she added.
The index includes six South Asian countries with Sri Lanka (64th) tops the ranking followed by Nepal (81th) and Bangladesh (84th). Both Sri Lanka and Nepal are placed in the "moderate" severity level.
Afghanistan (109th), India (107th) and Pakistan (99th) are the bottom three countries in South Asia. The GHI has not included Bhutan and Maldives in the 2022 report.
The GHI found that South Asia has the world's highest levels of child stunting (low body weight to height) and child wasting (malnourished or emaciated) while south Saharan countries in Africa have the highest levels of undernourishment and child mortality rates.
This year's GHI report considers one important avenue for food systems transformation – community action that engages local leaders and citizens in improving governance and accountability.
"Progress made to tackle world hunger has largely halted. The toxic cocktail of conflict, climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic had already left millions exposed to food price shocks and vulnerable to further crises," said Dominic MacSorley, chief executive of Concern Worldwide.