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National Zero Hunger Program being set up under the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy
(Feb 20, 2013) Pakistan is a middle income developing country. Agriculture is its most important sector due to its primary commitment of providing healthy food to its fast growing population. Although the rate of population increase has been considerably slowed down from over 3% in 1980s to 2.09% in 2009-10, it is still considered high. With the current rate of population growth, the population is expected to get doubled by 2050—making Pakistan the 4th largest nation by 2050 from current status of the 6th most populous state of the world.

As regards the land resources in Pakistan, the total cultivated area has increased by just 40% during the past 60 years, while there has been more than 4 times increase in population. The urban expansion occurred over seven-folds resulting into mega cities. Despite the fact that wheat production (a major food crop), has increased by five-folds, the country is still marginal importer / exporter of wheat. Tremendous efforts are needed to narrow the gap between the population growth and domestic food production. It is recognized that at present food in sufficient quantities is available but its access due to continued decrease in purchase power of people because of other factors, and major disasters that occurred in the country has become a major humanitarian issue. Further, rural to urban migration in search of job opportunities is making the situation worst in mega cities leading to increased urban poverty and food insecurity.

It is estimated that some 61% people in Pakistan are food insecure. Regarding the prevalence of under-nutrition and malnutrition among children, the recently conducted Nutrition Survey by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF has observed that at the national level 43% children have stunted growth, the figures for Sindh are further shocking where 70% of the children have stunted growth. The situation is no better in other countries as well. According to World Watch Institute, globally 30% food is wasted, while one billion people go hungry and another billion are obese; indicating that the current food system is failing to meet the world's nutritional needs.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) has initiated dialogue for the preparation of a NATIONAL ZERO HUNGER PROGRAM (NZHP). At the concluding session of the National Food Security Workshop on 21 March 2012, the Prime Minister appreciated the idea and the ministry was advised to prepare budget for this program and to establish the NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY COUNCIL (NFSC). Besides working with the Ministry of Finance, the ministry has interacted with the UN Organizations and bilateral donors and a great deal of interest has been shown by them in the NZHP. A Letter of Intent has been signed by the Ministry and The World Food Program (WFP), whereby the Ministry would donate wheat to WFP to convert it into high energy diets for distribution to the food poor people of Pakistan in 38 districts.

The initial consultations with the stakeholders concluded that the NZHP should have 7 components, viz., (i) policy reforms, (ii) support to the establishment of the NFSC, (iii) social protection which is a support to be provided to the most vulnerable groups, (iv) small grants program for the rural and urban poor to kick start economic growth and increase livelihood opportunities, (v) support for urban / peri-urban agriculture to ensure food security in urban areas, (vi) capacity building of the ministry and its partner institutions, and (vii) food education, partnership development, and awareness raising. The objective of the NFC is to serve as the technical and policy arm of the ministry to bring harmony among the structural and compensatory policies and generate resources for the NZHP and ensure its cost-effective and efficient implementation in coordination with the relevant Federal Ministries, Provincial Departments, local administration and civil society organizations. The structural policies need to be designed to redistribute income, promote production, generate jobs, and foster an agrarian reform. If actions are limited to the compensatory policies which are of an emergency nature, while the structural policies continue to generate unemployment, concentrate the income, and increase poverty- as it is seen happening in Pakistan today- resources are squandered, society is deceived, and the problem is perpetuated. Experts believe that 50% problems in Pakistan could be solved by adjustments in policies, therefore, NZHP aims to review and adjust policies based on updated studies.

Basically the NZHP will follow a three-pronged approach whereby reformed policies would provide job opportunities and economically conducive environment; the poor farmers will be provided conditional grants to promote family farming; and the food poor people and internally displaced persons will be provided food-aid for work.

Food and Nutrition Security in Pakistan (PDF)












Bracing For Climate Change
(Jan 29,2013) “Almost 40 per cent glaciers in Afghanistan have been reduced in 40 years, whereas the glaciers supplying water to Ravi, Chenab, Beas and Jhelum Rivers are thinning,” said Dr Chaudary Inayatullah, Climate Change Expert at Save the Children.
Dr Chaudhry was speaking at a seminar, ‘Building Resilience in the Indus Basin’, on Tuesday, organized by Save the Children.
The doctor presented findings of a research study commissioned by Save the Children on climate change in Pakistan, and said that around 50 per cent of the country’s population was food insecure.
He said that temperatures were likely to increase by at least 0.5 degrees centigrade per decade with significant implications for agriculture, food insecurity and malnutrition rates that were already beyond emergency thresholds in many flood prone districts that make up the Indus Basin.
“For poor and vulnerable communities living near the Indus River, their exposure to the impact of a changing climate pushes them further into poverty and hunger,” said Dr Inayat adding that the changing environment has increased the risk of humanitarian disasters manifold for the people who rely on food and livelihoods from the mighty river.
Dr Chaudhry said that due to drought cycles — lack of rain — rivers have become drier, directly effecting food production.
“Apart from food production, the other causes of malnutrition are diseases and it has been noted that diarrhea, malaria and dengue are on the rise,” he said.
Speakers at the event suggested that the country needed to launch an aggressive tree plantation drive and the farmers should be imparted knowledge related to changing crop sowing patterns.
It was also highlighted that Pakistan needed small dams and water reservoirs, so that the water could be stored in case of floods and during a prolonged drought.
Director NDMA Brig Sajid Naeem, highlighting the official efforts in this regard said that the government was working to improve climate change adaptation in the country to ensure that the risks faced by millions of poor and vulnerable communities across Pakistan were reduced.
“We must all be prepared for a world which is changing,” Brig Sajid said, adding, “Pakistan remains vulnerable to climate change due to its geographic location and this vulnerability is likely to increase in the coming decades.”
The 2010 floods in Pakistan are considered to be the worst disaster attributable to climate change, so far, he said.
Over 18 million people were affected and one fifth of the country was underwater. Monsoon floods affected over 5 million in both 2011 and 2012, said Sajid.
Various studies and assessments that were presented in the seminar emphasized the need to scale up DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) programmes in preparation for cyclical flooding which were expected to worsen in the coming decades.     [
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National Zero Hunger Program
(April 24, 2012) The seminar was organized to address the critical question of food security and to view the government’s National Zero Hunger Action Plan (NZHAP) in this context. The NZHAP is a government initiative to address the problem of food insecurity facing the country, including hunger and malnutrition. The $16 billion five year plan aims to reach out to almost 61 million people across the country. Siblot lauded the initiative, saying that the program reflects a very high level of commitment towards addressing the problem of hunger and malnutrition in Pakistan.
Other experts at the seminar also appreciated the initiative. They opined that the plan was very timely, urging its swift implementation.
The participants were informed that the program includes provision of nutritious and fortified food commodities to the most food insecure and vulnerable sections of society particularly malnourished children, pregnant women and primary school children. The program also features a school feed programme and establishment of ‘zero hunger shops’ in 45 extremely food insecure districts of Pakistan.
Speaking at the event, Dr Chaudhry Inayat of Ministry of National Food Security and Research giving details of the plan said it envisioned a prosperous and hunger free Pakistan with food security for every household. The seven components of the plan include policy reforms, establishment of a National Food Security Council, targeted social safety nets, capacity building of the ministry and partnership with international agencies.
The NZHAP, drafted after rigorous consultations with various stake holders, takes in consideration the different dimensions of food insecurity in Pakistan and the steps to be taken to address the problem.
Kevin Gallagher, Country Representative, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking at the seminar, said that the Zero Hunger Plan was in compliance with the governments ‘right to food’ obligation, which entails provision of nutritious food for everyone.
“It would provide opportunities to vulnerable people who also place conditional obligation on them to secure food by their own” he said.
Silvia, a UNICEF representative, said that it was alarming to see the stagnant figures of malnutrition in the country. Rates of chronic malnutrition were as high as 50 per cent and that a third of children born in Pakistan were underweight.
“The problem is not with the children but with mothers who do not meet their nutritional needs during pregnancy,” she informed.
Pakistan with its low production and increasing prices of seeds and fertilizers was also one of the factors affecting the quality of food purchased.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said that it was high time the government took notice of this issue. Food inflation would be a great challenge in coming years, he warned. “More than half of Pakistan’s population is food insecure, anaemic and malnourished,” he said, quoting a study by the Department for International Development (DFID) which revealed that the economic cost of iodine and vitamin deficiency in Pakistan equals to 2.5 per cent of GDP.
Talking about the challenges the Zero Hunger Plan could face, Suleri said that the most immediate challenges Pakistan could face in the programmes implementation were related to governance, institutional arrangements, division of responsibilities between federation and provinces and pilferages and mobilization of resources.
He added that Pakistan could learn from success stories such as Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico where these programmes were running successfully.








National Zero Hunger Program Workshop
[March 21, 2012] Aimed at attaining food security and reducing malnourishment in Pakistan, a National Zero Hunger Programme has been inaugurated by the Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani.The PM has also announced the establishment of National Council for Food Security comprising representatives of federal and provincial governments, private sector and civil society.
To this end, the PM chaired the concluding session of a six-day strategic national workshop on “Food Security in Pakistan: Future Challenges and Coping Strategies”.
The workshop was held to produce a set of guidelines and frameworks for the programme and formulate the operational strategy of the newly-created Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
Gilani said the programme will facilitate the efforts of federating units in fulfilling the vital goal of making Pakistan food secure. He directed to formulate a unified policy of coordination aimed at energy security, water security and food security. Quoting the surveys carried out by SDPI and World Food Programme (WFP), Gilani said that 45 districts in all provinces are extremely food insecure and this is the target group which requires immediate attention.
The challenge is to generate consistent economic surpluses for long term stability and sustainable human development that cannot be achieved without ensuring food security for all, he added.
Ministry of National Food Security and Research Secretary Shafqat Hussain Nagmi said the programme will reach out to 12 million food insecure people in one year with a cost of $1.04 billion. He said in five years, a total of 61 million people will be reached with total cost of $16 billion.
Nagmi, also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Jean-Luc Siblot, Country Representative,WFP, for collaboration on the programme. [National Zero Hunger Program links]


















Drought may force NA people to migrate to Punjab
(March 19, 2012) Ministry of Food Security and Research Secretary Shafqat Hussain Naghmi has said that his ministry needs guidance on its working for which rules of engagement on working together with experts should be devised by a committee which should also monitor and evaluate us in every respect including human resource and research.
Naghmi was speaking at the second day of a six-day ‘National Workshop on Food Security in Pakistan: Future Challenges and Coping Strategies’ organized by the Ministry of Food Security and Research in collaboration with FDP, FAO, SDPI and Oxfam here on Saturday evening.
Naghmi said that we can have long and short-term plans but we are just bureaucrats and not experts and need to be guided on what is research and who will advise us.
Dr C Inayatullah from World Food Programme said that in case global warming is not checked, glaciers will decline and a drought period will follow which will force the people living in NA to migrate though Punjab and other areas will also be affected.
He said that temperatures in Pakhtunkhwa increased in the last century. He said that deviation in temperature modes was also observed in Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza and Astore. Simulation by International Centre of Climate Change indicated clearly that precipitation is lowering while temperature is growing especially in the north of Pakistan, he added.
He said that Mediterranean rains used to visit this area in winter but in 2010 came in summer also indicating climate change and worsening the flood situation. He said that rainfall pattern is also changing in the country and we are getting more rains in Sindh and an additional reason is rise in sea level, which may result in emergence of ponds and lakes in the province.
The participants were divided into three groups on policy and linked institutions, food and nutrition monitoring, applied research and value chain, and reaching the malnourished and food poor.
Mome Saleem from SDPI, the coordinator of the groups, said that institutional set-up will set the protocols for federal level coordination mechanism to use different methods to collect data on crop and food security assessment, to monitor seasonal crops/livestock, market and prices. She said Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), household food security and nutrition would also monitor it. She said that a portal will be used to establish a web portal for food security and nutrition monitoring.
Krishna Pahari from WFP said that climate change is a hunger-risk multiplier, which will lead to declining yields and agricultural productivity, deteriorating land, more intense weather-related disasters, reduced water availability, food price volatility, increasing conflicts over scarce resources and migration and displacement.
He said that accelerating hunger trends and deepening poverty and inequality in vulnerable countries/communities is an area of concern and WFP is linking disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
Tariq Zehri, Director Food, Baluchistan, hoped that Baluchistan would multiply its fish catch 5 times in next four years. He said that 60 per cent of camels are in his province and its milk reportedly sells at Rs800 to Rs1,000 per kilo. He said that Baluchistan has 40 pc of sheep stocks of the country. He said that 60 per cent apples, 99 per cent grapes, 98 per cent of apricots and 46 per cent of dates of Pakistan are produced in Baluchistan.
In the question hour, he said that farmers do not need crop support price but input prices equal to Indian level, which are half of that in Pakistan.



















Climate Change, Water and Food Security
(February 16, 2012) Deliberating on water, energy, adaptation, gender equity and livelihoods, the climate stakeholders adopted a resolution on the concluding day of ‘Track-II Dialogue on (Climate) Change for peace’ which
was jointly organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) on Wednesday.
They stressed on both countries to work together to address common challenges posed by the climate change in order to achieve food and energy security, sustainable livelihoods, conservation of biodiversity, enhanced water use
efficiency, promotion of low carbon sustainable development and building resilient communities and networks.
They said energy needs of both the countries are growing to bring sizeable population out of poverty and achieve economic growth. Both countries need to work together to ensure universal access to sustainable and affordable energy,
including through the optimization of renewable energy potential in the region, measures to promote green energy, and establishment of South Asian Energy Grid. Stressing upon the need of best available scientific and local knowledge, they said governments, academic institutions, and civil society organizations need to work together to prepare compendium of best policy frameworks/practices.
Deliberating on education, they underlined on mutual learning and sharing of experience and knowledge between the government agencies, civil society organizations, academic and research institutions, and other stakeholders through
building of networks and establishment of exchange programmes of experts, researchers and journalists. Highlighting importance of gender equality, they said women must be involved at all the decision-making levels and processes in order to incorporate their perspectives and address their specific needs and vulnerabilities. Furthermore, networks of expatriate South Asians can provide invaluable support in the form of financing, knowledge sharing and access to information and technology which should be materialized.
The resolution further underlines on adaptation strategies which must be designed keeping in view the shared ecosystems in the region such as mountains, glaciers, rivers and monsoon systems as well as the common interests of countries
including prevention of conflict. The resolution puts emphasis on the relevant decisions adopted by SAARC summits on climate change, especially those pertaining to food security and disaster risk reduction, and seeks their implementation through enhanced cooperation and removal of impediments.
The resolution also recommends SAARC to carry out a feasibility study on the establishment of a green climate fund for South Asia besides establishment of a ‘Climate Policy Coordination Group’ between policy-makers of two countries
to harmonize positions at international fora.
Some of the delegates which spoke on the occasion included Malik Amin Aslam, former federal Minister for Environment, Toshihirio Tanaka, Country Director UNDP, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, Shams-ul-Mulk, Ex-
Chairman, WAPDA, Chandra Bhushan of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) India, Dr Ejaz Khan of WWF, Dr Tariq Banuri, former Head of Sustainable Development Division, United Nations, Dr. Saba Gul Khattak, Member Social Sector, Planning Commission, Shakeel Ahmad Ramay of SDPI, Britta Peterson, Country Director, Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) Pakistan, K. Srinivas, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Vasudha Foundation, India, Sanjay Vashist, Programme Advisor Climate Change, Heinrich Boll Foundation, India Office, Prof. Dr. Jurgen Scheffran, Institute of Geography, University of Hamburg, Head of the Research Group Climate Change and Security (CLISEC), Harjeet Singh, Climate Justice Coordinator, Action Aid International, India, Mehmood Cheema of IUCN, Ali Tauqeer Sheikh,
Chief Executive, LEAD Pakistan, Chaudhry Inayatullah, Regional Programme Coordinator, ICIMOD, Dr. Asad Server Qureshi, Water Resources Management Specialist, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Azmat Hayat Khan, Director Pakistan Met Department (PMD), Arshad H. Abbasi, Advisor Water & Energy, SDPI, and Mome Saleem, Research Associate, SDPI.

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