Hunger chal­lenge

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

World Food Day is ob­served on 16 Oc­to­ber ev­ery year. This year's theme ' Our Ac­tions are our Fu­ture. A Zero Hunger World by 2030 is pos­si­ble' re­minds us of the need to en­sure that ev­ery­one has ac­cess to safe, af­ford­able and nu­tri­tious food at all times to live a healthy and happy life. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est State of Food Se­cu­rity and Nutri­tion in the World 2018, for the third year in a row, there has been a rise in world hunger. The ab­so­lute num­ber of un­der­nour­ished peo­ple has in­creased to nearly 821 mil­lion in 2017 from around 804 mil­lion in 2016. Pak­istan in 2015- 17 had a Preva­lence of Un­dernour­ish­ment in the to­tal pop­u­la­tion of 20.5%. This has barely im­proved since 2004- 06 when it was 23.3%, and has ac­tu­ally risen since 2014- 16 when it was 19.9% re­flect­ing a world­wide trend of in­creas­ing hunger.

On the 2017 IFPRI Global Hunger In­dex, Pak­istan ranked at 106 among 119 coun­tries, with a score of 32.6. This level is de­scribed as ' se­ri­ous', and is on a par with Afghanistan, which ranked 107. Food se­cu­rity is a fun­da­men­tal el­e­ment of poverty al­le­vi­a­tion. How­ever, achiev­ing it is a nec­es­sary but not suf­fi­cient con­di­tion to pre­vent mal­nu­tri­tion and en­sure ad­e­quate nutri­tion for all. When there is an un­cer­tain ac­cess to nu­tri­tious, safe and var­ied food for a house­hold or an in­di­vid­ual, that house­hold or in­di­vid­ual is food in­se­cure. Food in­se­cu­rity can both di­rectly through com­pro­mised di­ets, and in­di­rectly through im­pact on in­fant feed­ing cause child wast­ing, stunt­ing and mi­cronu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies. Re­cur­rent in­fec­tions and dis­ease are se­ri­ous con­tribut­ing fac­tors to wast­ing and stunt­ing in chil­dren. Nutri­tional knowl­edge and food habits and im­proved san­i­ta­tion may play a role by mod­er­at­ing the ef­fects of house­hold food in­se­cu­rity on diet, health and, con­se­quently, on nutri­tional out­comes.

The link be­tween food in­se­cu­rity and over­weight and obe­sity also passes through diet, which is af­fected by the cost of food. Nu­tri­tious, fresh foods of­ten tend to be ex­pen­sive. So what should be done? There is need for im­ple­ment­ing and scal­ing up in­ter­ven­tions aimed at guar­an­tee­ing sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion and ac­cess to nu­tri­tious foods, break­ing the in­ter­gen­er­a­tional cy­cle of mal­nu­tri­tion per­pet­u­ated by un­der­nour­ished girls be­com­ing un­der­nour­ished moth­ers at risk of giv­ing birth to in­fants with low birth weights. Any ac­tion plan or pol­icy im­ple­men­ta­tion must pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to the food se­cu­rity and nutri­tion of in­fants and chil­dren un­der five, school-age chil­dren, ado­les­cent girls and women.

The first Na­tional Food Se­cu­rity Pol­icy and the Wa­ter Pol­icy pro­vide the frame­work for ac­tion, putting em­pha­sis on agri­cul­ture di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion among other things, and a Na­tional Zero Hunger Pro­gramme. Key pil­lars of a Zero Hunger Pro­gramme are schoolfeed­ing pro­grammes com­bined with ed­u­ca­tional mod­ules on nutri­tion, hy­giene, food prepa­ra­tion and home­stead kitchen gar­dens in ru­ral and peri-ur­ban ar­eas; con­di­tional in­come sup­port tar­get­ing women in the most vul­ner­a­ble house­holds; knowl­edge, tech­nol­ogy and as­set cre­ation (such as qual­ity seeds, mod­ern ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems, pro­cess­ing equip­ment) and mar­ket link­ages.

Fur­ther pil­lars such as nutri­tional sup­ple­ments, es­sen­tial ba­sic ser­vices would also be re­quired in the most vul­ner­a­ble and poor ar­eas. Close in­ter-min­is­te­rial and cross-sec­toral co­or­di­na­tion among the Min­istries of Food Se­cu­rity, Wa­ter, Health and Cli­mate Change, and a strong al­liance with civil so­ci­ety is also needed.Zero hunger is a de­fin­i­tive call for a trans­for­ma­tion of the ru­ral econ­omy, cou­pled with a change in the di­ets of house­holds and in­di­vid­u­als. Com­mon cit­i­zens at their own level can help by look­ing at what they eat in one day and com­pare that with Pak­istan Di­etary Guide­lines for their age group and if there is any­thing they should change; see­ing how much food and wa­ter goes wasted in a day in their home and what can be done to re­duce it. We should leave no stone un­turned to at­tain the tar­get of zero hunger by 2030.

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