OPHI Research Officer Paola Ballon Fernandez has provided technical support to the creators of a new index that ranks governments on their political commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition.
The Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI), developed by the Institute of Development Studies, was created to provide greater transparency and public accountability by measuring what governments achieve, and where they fail, in addressing hunger and undernutrition. It aims to praise governments where due, and highlight areas for improvement; support civil society to reinforce and stimulate additional commitment towards accelerating the reduction of hunger and undernutrition; and assess whether improving commitment levels lead to a reduction in hunger and undernutrition.
The HANCI compares 45 developing countries for their performance on 22 indicators of political commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition, looking at three areas of government action: policies and programmes, legal frameworks and public expenditures. The index measures commitment to reduce hunger and commitment to reduce undernutrition separately, because hunger and undernutrition are not the same thing. Guatemala came top for both hunger and nutrition commitment in 2012, while the worst-performing country was Guinea Bissau.
‘Where high levels of political commitment exist, we could see dramatic decreases in the levels of illness and death caused by chronic hunger and to the irreversible damage to the physical and mental development of children caused by undernutrition,’ said lead HANCI researcher at IDS, Dr Dolf te Lintelo, in a statement.
The HANCI draws on secondary data (owned by governments) and complements this with primary data on expert and community perspectives on political commitment in Bangladesh, Malawi and Zambia. It situates levels of political commitment within specific country contexts, such as their levels of wealth and economic growth, government effectiveness and, not least, their hunger and undernutrition statuses.
OPHI’s Ballon helped the HANCI team at IDS to calculate and interpret the Cronbach alphas – coefficients of internal consistency – and is acknowledged for her support in the report.
You can read the HANCI 2012 report in full here.