Promoting Food Security in Pakistan
By Sheikh Adil Hussain
Despite the robust development in the last couple of years, several countries all over the world still suffer from the scourge of extreme hunger and malnutrition. In the aftermath of environmental degradation, famine, and drought, about 690 million people in the world have little to no access to clean, hygienic food. In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were affected by food insecurity, with statistics pointing at Africa and Asia as the epicenters of this global problem.
Although rich in agricultural land, Asia accounts for nearly 63% of the overall hunger problem in the world. Keeping the severity of this issue in mind, the United Nations Development Program added Zero Hunger to its Sustainable Development Goals. Zero hunger is a collaborative effort to end starvation by 2030 and ensure access to nutritious and sufficient food for all.
Under the Zero Hunger concept, UNDP urges governments all over the world to support small-scale farmers by providing them with easy access to land and technology. A boost in sustainable agriculture will not only promote homegrown businesses and farmers, but it will also lead to higher volumes of fresh, nutritious food for the malnourished and underprivileged communities.
Moreover, supporting organic produce will also protect people’s livelihood and decrease, if not eliminate, issues rooted in economic, social, and environmental factors such as climate change.
In Pakistan, the prevalence of malnourishment in the total population was 20.5% from 2015 to 2017 – a concerning increase from 19.9% in 2014-2016. This rise in the number of people on an empty stomach every night mirrors the worldwide issue of extreme hunger that seems to be escalating by the day.
The good news is Pakistan is already taking steps in the right direction to combat this issue. Known as one of the most charitable countries, Pakistan is home to many socially responsible businesses such as Nestle, Daraz.pk, and Shan Foods that are helping the government speed up the journey to Zero Hunger by 2030.
In just a few decades, Shan Foods metamorphosed from a small-scale homegrown business to a global empire and has never shied away from giving back to the society that made this journey possible.
The brand that is now synonymous with subcontinental cuisine and recipe mix qualified as a Gold sponsor for the United Nations Association of Pakistan’s (UNAP) food drive, #DeKarHaasil. Shan Foods joined hands with the association and distributed Shoop Instant Noodles to thousands of families by either home delivery or at designated spots.
People who received rations were registered under the Sindh Relief App and only received food packages after clearing the CNIC verification process. The organizing parties also made sure that all COVID-19 protocols, such as social distancing, are followed during the distribution of rations and food items. The #DeKarHaasil initiative was in collaboration with Pakistan Rangers and the government that ensured the safety of all members residing in the areas covered by the drive. The underprivileged vicinities covered in the #DeKarHaasil drive included Askari Park near old Sabzi Mandi, Paposh, New Karachi, Saadi Town, Orangi, Korangi, and many more.
The ongoing pandemic and the current financial climate have further impacted the livelihood and food security of many underprivileged communities all over the country. However, with such collaborative efforts between the government of Pakistan, corporations, NGOs, and socially responsible individuals towards the Zero Hunger goal, the distressing statistics on malnutrition may show a downward trend soon. More and more companies must follow suit and initiate such relief drives as part of their CSR strategy if we want to see the situation around food security improve at an accelerated pace.