Islamabad, 26 July, 2023 (GNP): Pakistan’s standing on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has raised concerns as the country is ranked 99th out of 129 nations, indicating a “serious” level of hunger.
The GHI report, a collaborative effort by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, has brought attention to the alarming food crisis prevailing globally, attributing it to conflicts, climate change, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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The report has highlighted that at least 46 countries, including Pakistan, are projected to fail in achieving “low hunger” status by 2030, indicating a dire need for urgent interventions. Pakistan’s GHI score of 26.1 for 2022, worse than the previous edition in 2014, indicates a pressing challenge that needs immediate attention.
Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where Pakistan is situated, have been identified as regions with the highest hunger levels, making them vulnerable to future shocks and crises. The report specifically mentions Pakistan, along with five other countries, experiencing an increase in stunting rates among children.
The challenging circumstances faced by Pakistan, including the recent political upheaval and the worst financial crisis in the nation’s history, have further exacerbated the food insecurity situation.
Last year’s devastating floods caused substantial economic damage, and mounting balance-of-payment issues have left the country grappling with depleted foreign reserves and rising inflation.
Accessibility and affordability have emerged as crucial concerns in Pakistan’s struggle to combat hunger. The shrinking purchasing power of the population has made it difficult for many to afford basic necessities, including food. The government is urged to prioritize measures to slow inflation and strengthen the value of the national currency.
Adil Mansoor, a food security researcher, emphasized the need for increased domestic wheat production. Currently, Pakistan imports at least 10 percent of its wheat due to inadequate domestic production targets. Boosting productivity through research and skill development is essential to improve the quality and yield of crops.
Addressing the urgent situation, Abdullah, an agriculture economist, emphasized the importance of improving affordability and enhancing the nation’s purchasing power. The government’s efforts to enhance productivity and ensure access to affordable food are critical to overcoming this crisis.
The GHI report and the UN’s designation of Pakistan as a “very high concern” area for food insecurity underscore the pressing need for immediate action and collaborative efforts from all stakeholders.