Ever since the Covid -19 pandemic crisis has hit upon the world, there has been an immense rise in the hunger, food insecurity, and poverty in the country. As the global economy got adversely affected, the rates of unemployment and poverty got elevated; the worst repercussions were faced by the poorest segments of the population that include wage laborers, women, and farmers especially in countries like Pakistan (Lohano, 2020). Hence, by the virtue of the governmental neglect or simply mismanagement, Pakistan’s food policy failed to acknowledge food as a right for its citizens, especially for the poverty-stricken and vulnerable population resulting in the upsurge of hunger (Lohano, 2020).
Poverty, in essence, translates into a living condition in which parents fail to feed their families enough nutrition and food which leads them to malnourishment. Malnutrition paves way for diminutive development and unproductive lives which means no breakout from poverty. Hence, the brutally inescapable cycle of poverty and hunger functionally continues. The term ‘food insecurity’ also refers to the “inaccessibility to adequate amount of food for meeting dietary energy needs that implies for many as self-sufficiency” (Ahmad & Farooq, 2010). A recent statistic represents that in the province of Sindh, 50 percent of children under the age of 5 are stunted and 19 percent are severely malnourished (Project, 2018). “According to the World Food Programme, 43 percent of Pakistan’s population faces food insecurity. Of this number, 18 percent of people in Pakistan severely lack access to food. This is linked to the fact that most of these people are heavily dependent on agriculture for a living” (Project, 2018). To further shed light on the matter, another study about interior Sindh suggested that more than 54 percent of households live below the poverty line and cannot afford to buy varied food items or sufficient amount of food ("Pakistan : Strengthen food security and agriculture", 2020). Most of the farmers survive solely on low monthly incomes as the main crops they grow are commercial crops like rice, wheat, and cotton that are sold out in food markets or crop related industries. The limited incomes generated are utilized to grow further crops in a hope for minute profits and survive indecent living conditions. Due to this reason, the farmers can not even include vegetables in their diet and suffer food insecurity and poverty, simultaneously, in an unbreakable cycle ("Pakistan: Strengthen food security and agriculture", 2020). There have been many instances in rural areas where cases of hungry mothers giving birth to underweight children have been reported, that start life with a handicap, hindering their chances for better education, employment, and opportunities that would ensure their financial stability ( "REDUCING POVERTY AND HUNGER: THE CRITICAL ROLE OF FINANCING FOR FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT", n.d.). Such cases contribute to social instability that further undermines government’s capacity to reduce poverty and thereby hunger ("REDUCING POVERTY AND HUNGER: THE CRITICAL ROLE OF FINANCING FOR FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT", n.d.). Such instances would also depreciate children’s mental skills decreasing their mental skills and, hence, their societal progress which would cause poverty and, simultaneously, hunger for them. In addition, in food insecure countries crises often create the opportunity for underlying micronutrient deficiencies to develop into large outbreaks like in the case of Covid-19 crisis where, especially, the poor were seen to be trapped in the devastating and barbaric cycles of poverty and hunger to even greater extents.
Moreover, the poverty and hunger of Pakistan are evident on the footpaths along streets and roads in major cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, and Peshawar where many shelter-less and poor are found to be living and sleeping empty stomach. Additionally, a large number of these destitute people are surviving on the mercy of the large shrines that have free food distribution on daily basis. These helpless people with their families reside there thereby distancing themselves from any procedures of employment which results in further hunger and poverty for them and becomes from them an excuse to stay in the never-ending loop of poverty and hunger.
Though, Pakistan has the required technology, resources, and knowledge to lessen the levels of poverty and hunger yet to shape the commitments into actions, the country requires sincere political will. The best possible solutions seem to be enabling poor to participate in the growth process by increasing their access to financial resources and providing them domestic markets. Financing human capital for the poor by providing them health and educational facilities would enable them to opt for better opportunities. Providing the poverty-stricken population with social networks where they can coordinate to make use of their potential and generate social capital would bore fruits too. Additionally, research policies concerning cropping zones need to be implemented to heighten the standard of agricultural productivity in order to strengthen the income of farming communities. Young individuals and organizations can also play their prized role in the development of the poor to eradicate their poverty and hunger; training workshops for farmers and their families can be arranged to raise their awareness about greater agricultural productivity. The arrangement of ration drives or medical camps by privileged people of the society would, to some extent, cater to the starved segments of the populations. Since, agriculture is a huge part of the lives of rural segments, charitable organizations should also arrange funds to supply these farmers with advanced machinery and equipment to better the agricultural productivity, soil fertility management and methods to prevent locust or pests’ attacks for the farmers.
Ahmad, M., & Farooq, U. (2010). The State of Food Security in Pakistan: Future Challenges and Coping Strategies. The Pakistan Development Review, 49(4II), 903-923. doi: 10.30541/v49i4iipp.903-923
Lohano, H. (2020). Food insecurity and hunger in Pakistan | The Express Tribune. Retrieved 2 July 2021, from https://tribune.com.pk/story/2249020/6-food-insecurity-hunger-pakistan
Pakistan : Strengthen food security and agriculture. (2020). Retrieved 2 July 2021, from https://www.actioncontrelafaim.org/en/headline/strenghten-food-security-and-agriculture/
Project, B. (2018). Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Pakistan | The Borgen Project. Retrieved 2 July 2021, from https://borgenproject.org/top-10-facts-about-hunger-in-pakistan/
REDUCING POVERTY AND HUNGER: THE CRITICAL ROLE OF FINANCING FOR FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT. Retrieved 2 July 2021, from http://www.fao.org/3/Y6265e/y6265e03.htm