The recently released Global Hunger Index has once again put the spotlight on Pakistan’s persistent struggle with hunger. Ranking a dismal 99th out of 121 countries, the nation’s hunger level is deemed serious. According to the GHI-2022 report, Pakistan’s hunger situation has worsened over the past 16 years, with the GHI score plummeting from 38.1 in 2006 to 26.1 in 2022. This decline underscores the urgency to address the deep-rooted issues that continue to hamper progress in combatting hunger and malnutrition.

The report identifies several factors contributing to the crisis, including armed conflicts, climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic. These challenges have exacerbated the vulnerabilities faced by food-insecure communities in the country, demanding immediate action from policymakers. Notably, South Asia remains the region with the world’s highest hunger level, and Pakistan’s children are significantly affected. The report highlights alarming child stunting and malnutrition rates, which underline the critical need to prioritise nutrition and health interventions for the young population. Policymakers must prioritise this as a national concern and allocate sufficient resources to tackle the root causes effectively. Investments in agriculture, education, healthcare and social safety nets are critical in building a resilient food system that can withstand future challenges. The government must also take heed of the report’s recommendations that call for citizen participation. Engaging with local communities, small producers, farmers and indigenous groups can provide valuable insights and ensure that policies are tailored to the specific needs of the population.

By prioritising food security, fostering citizen participation and adopting sustainable solutions, Pakistan can make significant strides towards eradicating hunger and securing a better future for its people. The time for action is now, and the nation’s commitment will determine the fate of millions of vulnerable lives.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2023.

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