HUNGER and malnutrition pose a profound challenge to the lives and livelihoods of more than 820 million people around the globe, and the malnutrition epidemic is back on the rise.

What we eat, of course, defined how well-nourished [or malnourished] we are. In other words, it is not simply quantity [as in how much we eat] that is causing malnourishment.

It has more to do with what we are producing, how we are producing it [Is it safe? Is it sustainable?] and what we are eating - or not eating.

Simply put, the world is facing a triple burden of malnutrition - from undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies [lack of vitamins and minerals' and from becoming over weight and obese.

At the same time we are depleting our soils, oceans, forests, biodiversity, when agriculture systems are not sustainable.

In Pakistan, nearly half of the average caloric intake is derived from the consumption of three cereal crops - wheat, rice and maize.

The 2019 UN Report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition [SOFI] introduced a second indicator for monitoring Zero Hunger SDG Target 2.1, the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity based on on the Food Insecurity experience Scale [FIES] .

While severe food insecurity is associated with the concept of hunger, which captures issues of food availability, people experience moderate food insecurity face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food regularly because of issues of access and stability in access, and -

And have been forced to compromise on the quality and or quantity of the food they consume [utilisation], including how diversified their diet is.

The prevalence of food insecurity is slightly higher for women than for men, in all continents.

In South Asia, the Prevalence of Undernourishment [PoU] was estimated to be as high as as 14.9% in 2016-18. Take the case of Pakistan :

The average incidence has only has only slightly reduced, by 3%, in the period  2004-14, and remains at critical levels at around 20%, with about 40 million of its population undernourished today, with stark variations across the country.

Most of Pakistan's poor are in the rural areas, with multi-dimensional rural poverty at 55% and urban 9%. Smallholder men and women farmers can learn how to adopt safe and climate resilient agriculture and and livestock practices, kitchen gardening and how to reduce post-harvest losses.

This will increase their incomes and provide more diverse food availability at their household.

They quickly gain awareness of the importance of breastfeeding newborns, of a diversified diet that includes milk, eggs, vegetables fruits and pulses on a regular basis, of basic hygiene and safe drinking water.

Social protection, incentivising nutritious schools feeding and school attendance are also critical for food security and nutrition for these men and women and their families, especially during economic slowdowns, and to break the poverty and food insecurity cycle.

This is a Zero Hunger programme that can improve food security and nutrition and help pave the way for towards poverty eradication.

Solutions are there. We need action - our actions are our future.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Food Security, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Mina Dowlatchahi, representative of the FAO of the United Nations.


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