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A Review of Hunger Indices and Methods to Monitor Country Commitment to Fighting Hunger

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Several indices measuring hunger and progress in achieving hunger eradication have been proposed in the literature. This article reviews hunger indices and critically assesses their quality against a number of desirable properties. Hunger indices are found to be unsatisfactory in a number of ways: they ignore distributional issues, they neglect the occurrence of food and health shocks and they are sometimes based on unreliable data. Anthropometric measurements, stunting in particular, emerge as powerful indicators of hunger and are ideal for addressing a number of policy-relevant issues. The article also introduces a conceptual framework for an index measuring country commitment to fighting hunger. The constitutive elements of this index are illustrated: political will, anti-hunger policies and programmes. Suggestions are made on how a commitment index can be built and what the data requirements are.