Over the years, Pakistan has made gains becoming a food surplus country, and a major producer of wheat. A recent reduction in the prices of staple foods and a concurrent decline in inflation might increase access to food if the trends continue.
However, 60 percent of the population is still facing food insecurity. This is due primarily to limited economic access by the poorest and most vulnerable – particularly women – to an adequate and diverse diet.
An average Pakistani household spends 50.8 percent of monthly income on food, and shocks, including high food prices, flooding, and significant population displacement in the northwest since 2008 exacerbate the situation.
The latest national nutrition survey found that 15 percent of children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition, the second highest rate in the region. Close to 44 percent of children in the same age group are stunted, 32 percent are underweight and the majority of children under 2 consume less than half of their daily energy requirements, with low levels of vitamins and minerals.
As a result of social and cultural norms and practices, women and girls face difficulties accessing humanitarian assistance and services. Girls’ access to education, especially in areas like the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Frontier Regions and Balochistan, remains a challenge, and there is a strong correlation between their level of education and all forms of undernutrition (stunting, wasting, and underweight). Nationwide, 7.3 million children of primary school age are not enrolled, 57 percent of whom are girls.
The World Food Programme (WFP)’s work in Pakistan is aligned Government priorities as defined in their Vision 2025. WFP supports Government-led efforts to improve food and nutrition security among vulnerable communities affected by law and order operations and the effects of recurring climatic events; work with communities in the most hazard-prone parts of the country to build resilience; address malnutrition; create an enabling environment for women to achieve social and economic equality and facilitate the voluntary return of the displaced in the northwest, as well as assist those still in displacement.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Pakistan
Food assistanceWFP supports the return and rehabilitation of one million displaced people in FATA through a six-month unconditional food ration of wheat flour, pulses, oil and salt to mitigate food insecurity until they restore their livelihoods.
NutritionIn partnership with UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), WFP provides treatment for moderate acute malnutrition among children aged between 6 months and 5 years, and pregnant and nursing women. Activities include the distribution of fortified foods and education on infant and young child feeding as well as the promotion of home fortification of foods through the distribution of micronutrient powders.
ResilienceWFP provides food assistance in exchange for participation in the construction and rehabilitation of community assets that can support food security, such as water harvesting systems, feeder roads, water channels, schools and other infrastructure, in areas affected by droughts or floods, or where displaced people are returning.
Disaster preparedness and responseWFP provides capacity strengthening and technical assistance in disaster preparedness and response at the federal and provincial levels, community-based disaster risk management, school safety, multi-hazard vulnerability risk assessment, supply chain management, the design and implementation of a commodity management system, and a beneficiary feedback hotline.
School mealsWorking in close coordination with the FATA directorate of education, WFP provides mid-morning snacks of fortified biscuits in pre-primary and primary schools in FATA and part of the Frontier Regions. Secondary school girls in FATA, of whom only 1 percent complete schooling, will receive a cash transfer with a view to increasing retention and literacy rates.