Food Security in Pakistan




My latest article on World Environment day. The theme of 2013 is Think, Eat and Save.

In this article, I described food security situation in Pakistan.

Climate change stressed our water resources and agriculture sector.Food shortages are becoming a pervasive danger and food insecurity a constant worry. More than half of Pakistan’s population is food insecure, anemic and malnourished. For those who are categorized as surviving on less than a dollar a day, a meal is just a naan or chapatti with a cup of tea, or maybe an onion or chillies. Even the middle class is unable to afford meat every day, and homemakers are hard-pressed to plan nutritious diets on severely constrained budgets.

Frequent weather changes trigger shifting patterns in crop growth, leading to lowered production, rising prices and inadequate means to feed the world’s hungry millions.

Environmental reports warn that the economic and human costs of natural disasters are likely to become more severe with climate change.

Pakistan itself has alarmingly high levels of malnutrition, or ‘hidden hunger’; nearly 24 per cent of the population is undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organisation findings say that 37.5 million people do not receive adequate nourishment. Widespread deficiencies are rampant ranging from protein and iron to iodine deficiencies. Poverty is the main causative factor, leading to low consumption of food and use of foods with low nutritional value. Higher food prices hurt the poorest the most, especially the landless poor and female-headed households

Climate change is harder on women in Pakistan

By Shabina Faraz

Zainab Bibi, a widow, mother of three from a very isolated village in District Mansehra (KPK) has a small farm and some livestock as a source of livelihood. From the last three years, she has been experiencing a constant decline in her wheat production. Zainab is desperately looking for some help. More knowledge about the alteration in sowing dates, usage of new crop varieties, irrigation methods, advance seasonal weather forecast etc can be of help to her. Being a female, widow and very few resources to rely-on, makes Zainab not only economically but also socially and politically vulnerable in a traditional Pakistani society. The addressal of her problems requires special efforts, efforts which could be reached-out to her.

The phenomenon of climate change in the years 1999 and 2000 clearly indicated the vulnerability when thousands of poor families had to flee from drought-hit areas of Balochistan where women and children were seen the most suffering sections of the society.

A report of the World Bank also showed that in Pakistan, especially in the mountainous regions, men out-migrate for livelihood opportunities (from 50% to 63% of the households) and it is the women who look after the family’s agriculture piece of land along with many other responsibilities.

According to an official report, climate change could hamper the achievement of many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including those on poverty eradication, child mortality, malaria, and other diseases, and environmental sustainability.

The report said like other poor countries, climate change is harder on women in Pakistan, where mothers have to stay in areas hit by drought, deforestation or crop failure. Many destructive activities against the environment disproportionately affect them, because most women in Pakistan are dependent on primary natural resources i.e. land, forests, and water.