Food insecurity has long plagued Pakistan, like other developing countries. The Coronavirus pandemic, however, has worsened the issue. According to the latest Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement, 16.4 out of every 100 households surveyed during the fiscal year 2019-2020 reported “moderate to severe food insecurity.” The number was higher than the 15.9 pc food-insecure households in 2018-2019. What is important to bear in mind is that this survey was carried out before March 2020 lockdown.
As an Editorial in Dawn points out, “it is safe to assume that the survey is reflecting only the impacts of job losses, income reduction and IMF-mandated economic stabilisation policies on the lives of the poor and marginalised communities across the rural-urban and provincial divides.”
What is tragic is that “almost 30pc of Balochistan’s population had reported food insecurity underlines the effects of climate change on agriculture and different food security levels in different regions. There is no doubt that intermittent periods of drought over several years have not only pushed up poverty levels in various regions of Balochistan but have also increased the size of the food-insecure population.”
The issue of food insecurity is “connected to not just economic growth and agricultural performance but also the growing regional economic and development gap, which has increased gender inequalities in the access to education, health, public facilities, and generally equal opportunities in life. Indeed, it is important to grow the economy for creating jobs and bridging income gaps so that the maximum number of people can access healthy food.”