Pakistan Reader# 537, 25 January 2023
Abigail Miriam Fernandez
On 24 January, the World Bank in its ‘Food Security Update Report’ said that six million people in Pakistan faced food insecurity because of the heavy rains and floods in the country during the last monsoon. The report added that hundreds of people lost their lives, 11 million heads of livestock were lost and over 9.4 million acres of crops were destroyed as a result of the flood between June and August 2022.
Meanwhile, a World Bank delegation met with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Inam Haider Malik. During the meeting, matters related to the disaster management system and sustainable disaster risk reduction models to protect vulnerable communities were discussed. Additionally, the NDMA chairman informed the WB team about the transformative idea of an artificial intelligence-based National Emergencies Operations Centre (NEOC) at NDMA as a leading forum for managing, collating and disseminating critical information pertaining to disaster predictions, early warnings and preventive measures and generating ‘common operating picture’ for preparedness of all relevant departments for proactive response and simulation exercises in advance.
Additionally, he also told the team about the creation of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) as a national think tank on emergencies spectrum, which will be mandated to create a collage of national universities and international organisations for research and studies on climate change and disaster risk management in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s food insecurity crisis
Pakistan currently ranks 92nd out of 116 nations on the Global Hunger Index. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh are the provinces that traditionally have a high prevalence of food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty. The report states that nearly six million people which is about 30 per cent of the population experienced high levels of acute food insecurity coming under the IPC Phase 3 or above between July and August 2022. According to the report, the levels are likely to increase to 8.5 million people which is 43 per cent of the population.
Although Pakistan is one of the biggest producers of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice, mangoes and dates, the country still faces a food crisis due to the growing population and inefficient food productivity. Issues related to neglected agriculture, flexible access to markets, lack of technological and entrepreneurial skills, inefficient supply chains, financial insecurity along with the impact of climate change have not bode well for the food security of Pakistan.
Iftikhar A. Khan, “World Bank, NDMA agree on framework for climate-resilient communities,” Dawn, 25 January 2023
“WB says 6m Pakistanis face food insecurity,” The Express Tribune, 25 January 2023
Khalid Saeed Wattoo, Sara Mehmood, “Why is Pakistan’s food security so precarious?,” Dawn, 26 December 2022
Nadia Agha, “Food insecurity,” Dawn, 6 November 2022
Abdullah Niazi, “Four ticking time-bombs threatening Pakistan’s food security,” Pakistan Today Profit, 20 November 2022
“Pakistan: 2022 Monsoon Floods - Situation Report No. 13 (As of 6 January 2023),” OCHA