Chad is the worst country in the world when it comes to the quality, affordability and availability of food, says a new Oxfam report. It ranks just below Angola and Ethiopia. With expensive food and more than one-third of all children underweight, hunger is a significant problem for the West African nation.
European countries dominate the top of the list with the Netherlands, Sweden and France leading the way. The United States just missed the top twenty thanks, in large part, to its elevated problem of obesity and diabetes.
The report seeks to draw attention to the global problem of hunger and the factors that contribute to the problem. Oxfam used the findings to urge action towards supporting smallholder farmers, slowing climate change and improving land rights.
“This index lays bare the common concerns that people have with food regardless of where they come from. It reveals how the world is failing to ensure that everyone is able to eat healthily, despite there being enough to go around,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.
Nearly one in four people living in Zimbabwe are in need of food aid through May. A shortage of funding has led the UN’s World Food Programme to halve its food rations four months before the expected harvest season.
With only $20 million available and another $60 million needed, the organization is concerned that it will not meet the hunger needs of the country. Zimbabwe is one of many countries that struggles with hunger. More than 800 million people around the world do not have enough to eat.
A similar warning was issued for South Sudan. The UN says it is trying to increase its response to the country’s ongoing conflict, with the hope of stemming hunger. Projections before the recent fighting showed that 4.4 million South Sudanese would be food insecure in 2014. With more than 300,000 people displaced, the Food and Agriculture Organization is concerned that things could get worse.
Nearly 80% of rural South Sudanese relying on agriculture for their livelihoods. The disruption of planting, land care, increased fuel prices and broken local markets contribute to a more challenging harvest and selling season for the people who depend on their crops.
“Even before the recent fighting, which has displaced more than 352 000 people, an estimated 4.4 million people were already expected to be facing food insecurity in South Sudan in 2014. Of those, 830 000 were estimated to be facing acute food insecurity,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.
Countries were scored based on eight global data sources. Scores were determined based on rankings in various categories and put together to make up the index. Some countries were left off the index due to insufficient data, including Somalia and Afghanistan. Sub-Saharan African nations make up the majority of the bottom quarter of the list with the exception of Bangladesh and Laos.
“Poverty and inequality are the real drivers of hunger. Hunger happens where governance is poor, distribution weak, when markets fail, and when people don’t have enough money and resources to buy all the goods and services they need,” said Byanyima. “Having sufficient healthy and affordable food is not something that much of the world enjoys.”
Climate change another factor included in the report that can make matters worse. The report cites research estimating that climate change could contribute to the increase in the number of people going hungry by twenty to fifty percent by 2050.