Pakistan is facing food insecurity due to climate change. Presently, due to the rise in water level in the Indus basin, one-third of the country is under floods. This rise in the Indus River has been due to steady rainfall since June and glacier melting because of global warming. Despite having contributed only 0.4 percent to the global greenhouse gas emission, Pakistan has been paying a heavy price for climate change. Although the flood has made all of the provinces its victims, it has hit hard in southern Pakistan that includes Sindh, Balochistan, and Southern Punjab. In these parts, the flood has not only made the lives of people hell but also destroyed their crops.
The destruction of crops can lead to severe food insecurity in Pakistan. The agriculture economy, the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, has already been suffering because of expensive fuel and fertilizer. According to Asian Development Bank, the rising cultivating cost has reduced the productivity of cash crops like wheat, sugar cane, rice, etc. In such a situation, with meagre foreign reserves and depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, the import of essential food items can be a tough job. In these circumstances, taking Pakistan out of food insecurity will be a big challenge for the government.
Pakistan made its first National Food Security Policy in 2018; it was comprehensive, addressing both food insecurity and climate change at the national level. Yet, it has failed to protect the country due to a lack of policy implementation. In such a situation, short and long-term steps need to be taken to take Pakistan out of food insecurity.
In the short term, the government must implement the National Food Security Policy 2018 in spirit and letter. Furthermore, the national media channels should highlight flood issues more than political wars between Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and Shahbaz Sharif’s government to increase national efforts in affected areas. Moreover, the international community should give the country more aid in terms of essential food items.
While, in long run, floods are expected to become more frequent, therefore, comprehensive steps need to be taken to tackle both food insecurity and climate change. One, the federal and provincial governments should set aside politics, and do consensus and coordination over the building of dams and distribution of water. Two, the state needs to make global leaders realize that we are paying the price for their actions, therefore, they must help us in terms of financial aid and rebuilding communication networks that are destroyed by the flood. Three, the government should invest more in water management by allocating sufficient resources for the maintenance works of dams, barrages, and canals to increase their capacity to store water and sustain climate changes e.g. floods and drought.
Similarly, incompetence and corruption must be eliminated from the concerned departments. Lastly, the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) must take steps to control the population and create awareness regarding that in the country.