The UN’s latest report, the 2021 Global Hunger Index (GHI), ranked Pakistan 92 out of the 116 countries it examined for food security and general hunger. Our total score has steadily declined since 2012, meaning that the fight against hunger is progressing however, this ranking is still pretty low. Various environmental, political and economic factors have contributed to this sad state of affairs and perhaps what is more discouraging is the authorities have failed to prioritise it in national policies.

Almost 40 percent of the national population experiences food insecurity and abject poverty. We may be making progress but, in the face of such daunting figures, it is marginal at best. According to countless reports, the main drivers of food insecurity is climate change, unstable economic policies as well as political uncertainty. Calamities like extreme flooding, drought and unproductive lands have reduced yields all over Pakistan. Meanwhile, geo-political developments like the tussle between Russia and Ukraine have impacted our imports and led to changes in global trends—i.e. rising oil prices. Pakistan’s own economic policies have changed in order to fulfil the IMF’s requirement for the revival of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme, causing extremely high inflation. In fact, according to a report released by the World Bank last week, food prices have risen by as much as 30 percent.

The impact of this on the population is varied. The reduction in subsidies by the government has allowed for unaffordability to become the norm. At the same time, people also barely have any means of income to support their livelihoods. Agricultural yields continue to shrink, resulting in less produce in the market as well as low profit margins for the average farmer. Opportunities are severely limited and the extent to which the country experiences hunger is unimaginable. New policies are needed, especially in the face of blessings like rain in the Thar desert which has been transformed from a desert to cultivable land at least for right now. More must be done to assure people of their next meal, as well as where it may be coming from.