FOR SOME, their everyday relationship with food is so taken for granted that it is barely given a second thought.

But while access to food is a universal human right for all, millions are deprived of basic nourishment that affects every aspect of the quality of life as well as the nation's economy, health indicators and  mortality rates.

It is unfortunate that despite being one of the most pressing issues of our times, we rarely hear about  food insecurity in mainstream public discourse.

Celebrity news or discussions on political sleaze take precedence.

ACCORDING to a joint report published recently by the World Health Organization:

The Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, UNICEF and the World Food Programme, hunger is on the rise in many parts of the world.

The report states that over 820 million people were deprived of a healthy and balanced meal in 2018, compared with 811 million in 2017.

The worst-hit regions are in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

[Incidentally, in a world of great disparity, obesity too is on the rise in other parts of the globe, presenting its own set of challenges]

In the largest continent, the South Asian region fares particularly poorly, with widespread malnutrition, stunting and a host other mental and physical impairments which are largely blamed on poverty, lack of awareness, poor access to what constitutes nutritious food  and the secondary status of women in household decision making.

Take the case of Proud Pakistan:

Pakistan is regarded is a food surplus country and is a significant producer of wheat. Yet, much of its population continues to suffer from food insecurity.

As noted by the renowned economist Amartya Sen, this is because hunger has little to do with food production and everything to do with the failure of imagination and deficient policymaking of those in power.

So, in Pakistan, despite efforts to increase income and daily wages, inflation is recorded to be at its highest in eight years, leading to predictions of a worsening situation in the near future.

There have also been no successful controls on the country's growing population, which directly affects its overall poverty rates.

Nearly half of Balochistan households face mild to severe food insecurity - with 30 percent facing chronic hunger.

While the political and social  marginalization of the province is no secret, the findings do confirm some of the worst fears of observers and should ring alarm bells in the corridors of power.

As long as there is hunger in the world, there will be no peace - and progress will be a hollow dream.

The World Students Society thanks the editorial staff at Dawn.


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