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Why Food Security is a Extensional Crisis for Pakistan

Economic crisis and poverty are significant contributors to food insecurity in Pakistan.High levels of poverty mean that people in the country cannot afford to buy enough food, let alone nutritious food.This results in malnutrition and hunger, especially among vulnerable populations such as children and women. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly 60 million people in Pakistan are food insecure, and over 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. This means that a significant proportion of the population is unable to access basic necessities such as food, shelter, and healthcare. The situation is so dire that for example on the 1st of April 2023, at least 16 people were killed across Pakistan in stampedes at sites distributing flour under a government-backed scheme to help families struggling with the soaring costs of basic staples. This is one of many incidents of desperation for food in the underserved communities.

Un-Natural Setbacks

A factor contributing to food insecurity in Pakistan is climate change. Pakistan is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, floods, and extreme temperatures, which have a significant impact on the country's agriculture sector. These extreme weather events often result in crop failures and reduced agricultural productivity, leading to a shortage of food. As such, the recent floods and COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the economic crisis and poverty levels in Pakistan. The floods has reslted in loss of massive agriculture land and pandemic has resulted in job losses and reduced income for many people, which has further affected their ability to afford food. A report by the World Food Programme (WFP) indicates that the number of people experiencing food insecurity in Pakistan has increased due to the pandemic and floods.

Increasing Population

The consequences of food insecurity are severe, not only for the health and well-being of individuals but also for the country's economic development. Malnutrition and hunger can lead to reduced productivity, lower educational attainment, and increased healthcare costs, among other consequences. Another reason for the food insecurity in Pakistan is the country's rapidly growing population. According to the World Bank, Pakistan's population is expected to reach 403 million by 2050, which will put immense pressure on the country's food supply. This population growth has also resulted in the expansion of urban areas, leading to the loss of agricultural land and natural resources, which is further exacerbating the food insecurity issue.

Lack of Resources

Furthermore, Pakistan's agricultural sector is characterised by low productivity and inefficient farming practices. Small-scale farmers, who make up a significant portion of the agricultural workforce, often lack access to modern technology, irrigation, and quality seeds, resulting in low yields and reduced incomes. This, in turn, affects the country's food supply and contributes to food insecurity.

Looking Forward

To address the issue of food insecurity, Pakistan needs to implement policies and initiatives that improve agricultural productivity, promote sustainable farming practices, and increase access to credit and resources for small-scale farmers. The government also needs to invest in infrastructure, such as irrigation systems and transportation networks, to improve the distribution of food. Additionally, social safety net programs can help provide support to vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to sufficient and nutritious food. Initiatives that promote education and improve the health and well-being of the population can also contribute to reducing poverty and food insecurity. This is where NGO's like Madinah Foundation play a part. We have been creating food banks across the country to distribute rations and cooked food to millions of Pakistanis. Food insecurity is a complex issue that requires a multi-sectoral approach involving both government and private sector efforts to ensure that all people in Pakistan have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food.