Climate change is a reality that results in severe consequences and disturbs the balance of life around the globe. Many other factors including industries have contributed that results change in the global climate. Pakistan has been ranked the 8th most-affected place from Climate Change in ‘The Long-Term Climate Risk Index (CRI): the 10 countries most affected from 1998 to 2017 (annual averages)’.
The report on the Global Climate Risk Index 2019 highlights extreme weather events including floods, storms, etc. These events were fueled by the 2017 climate change.
The report further unveiled that in 20 years from 1998 to 2017, over 11500 extreme weather events resulted in the loss of 526,000 lives & $3.47 trillion capital globally.
Food insecurity is one of such consequences, which needs to be addressed effectively. Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (World Food Summit, 1996).
In the case of Pakistan, the USAID’s FOOD ASSISTANCE FACT SHEET PAKISTAN (Updated March 7, 2019) states that Pakistan has become a food surplus country and a major producer of rice and wheat.
However, the poorest and most vulnerable people in Pakistan cannot afford a sufficient and nutritious diet despite the overall growth in food production.
The UN World Food Program (WFP) reports that nearly 60 percent of the population is facing food insecurity and malnutrition is highly prevalent.
The report further notifies that 44 percent of Pakistani children younger than 5 years of age are stunted and 15 percent suffer from acute malnutrition.
As of January 2019, drought affects approximately 26 districts in Balochistan and Sindh provinces, resulting in crop and livestock losses and high levels of household food insecurity.
Malnutrition levels in drought-affected provinces are alarmingly high. The UN estimates the drought affects 4 million people in southern Pakistan.
Food Challenges for Pakistan
To comprehensively assess the challenges facing Pakistan, the four facets of food security should be taken care of
a) Food availability
It refers to the physical availability of food in a country. It is determined by the country’s total food production, stocks, aid, and net trade-in food items.
b) Food access
If available food is not accessible to the population, food security cannot be achieved. Access to food is ensured when all people possess the economic means to access sufficient food to fulfill their nutritional and dietary requirements.
Despite growing levels of food production, economic access to food remains a major challenge in Pakistan. For instance, only 7 percent of the families in the Thar can buy the food while the remaining 93 percent don’t, 8 percent of the population in Thar takes loans to buy food which is not repaid for the next four to five years.
c) Food consumption and utilization
From a public health perspective, the consumption, absorption, and utilization of food is a major facet of food security.
This parameter is based on the nutritional value of food and the energy requirements of a healthy individual. This relates not only to solid food intake but also to the availability of clean drinking water and proper sanitation – both integral to health and well-being.
d) Food system stability
To ensure food security, people must have stable access to adequate quantities of nutritious food at all times. Periodic disruptions in food access cause nutritional status to deteriorate, thus hampering food security. Food stability requires demand and supply-side interventions and involves all three dimensions of food security – availability, access, and utilization.
For ensuring food security, it is a need to disseminate among masses to avoid food wastage. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), developing countries waste 40 percent of food items, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually all over the world.
Each time food goes unconsumed, all the resources that went into producing processing, packing, and transporting the food are wasted. This means that a huge amount of water, money, and other materials are depleted.
Food wastage increases methane emission and contributes significantly to climate change. On the societal front, mindsets need to change where wasting food is concerned.
It is simply unconscionable that we continue to waste so much when millions go hungry. The amount of food waste produced globally each year is more than enough to feed all of the hungry people in the world.
To sum up, food security is a serious threat that ought to be dealing with an effective approach towards it. The world has to gather to deliberate on this gigantic issue, which ostensibly affecting humanity.
Though they need to understand it has a boomerang effect because what goes around comes around. Moreover, a hungry stomach is more dangerous than a weaponized man.