111 510 510 libonline@riphah.edu.pk Contact

Global hunger, food security challenges

Member States should facilitate the continued strengthening of the United Nations development system and boost the capacity of the multilateral system to tackle emerging challenges and address Sustainable Development Goals-related gaps and weaknesses in the international architecture that have emerged since 2015—The Sustainable Development Goals Report [Special Edition 2023], United Nations

Globally, hunger and food security present a complex and enduring challenge affecting countries irrespective of cultural, economic, or geographic differences. The bare reality of inequality, with resource scarcity in some regions and exploitation by a few in others, is prevalent in our modern world. While certain nations grapple with issues like obesity and overconsumption, elsewhere, people face the critical threats of malnutrition and inaccessibility to essential food resources. This stark contrast emphasizes an urgent need for a comprehensive and equitable approach to address these disparities and ensure that basic nutritional needs are met for all individuals, regardless of their geographical location or socio-economic status.

It is disheartening that despite technological advancements in the wake of industrial revolutions and economic growth, the issues of food security and hunger still persist. These are till today inadequately addressed. While progress has been made in specific regions, millions worldwide still grapple with chronic hunger, facing unmet basic daily meal requirements and nutritional deficiencies. This predicament has serious health implications. It is hampering the individuals’ capacity to thrive and develop intellectually as well. The root causes of this hunger syndrome are multiple and complex, highlighting the need for a holistic and comprehensive approach to finding solutions on a global scale.

One significant factor contributing to hunger is poverty and inequality, directly linked to a country’s economic performance. The pervasive impact of poverty is most evident in the struggle of individuals with limited financial resources to provide a nutritious diet for themselves and their families. The trend towards economic liberalization and expansion of corporate influence have led to governments distancing themselves from social responsibilities. This economic shift has exacerbated existing inequalities, rendering marginalized populations more vulnerable to poverty and hunger. Widening economic gap intensifies the plight of those already on the fringes, making them more susceptible to the adverse effects of food insecurity.

Governments have struggled to establish sufficient infrastructure and production facilities that align with the ever-growing population and its demands. In developing and underdeveloped economies, challenge lies in limited or nonexistent access to fundamental resources like water, transportation infrastructure, and distribution networks, hindering overall growth.

Additionally, the swiftly changing climate, manifested through extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves, and droughts, directly affects crop cycles, disrupting agricultural productivity and allied supply chains. Inadequate and tardy response to these glaring calamities have further aggravated the difficulties faced by these regions in sustaining their agricultural systems and meeting their populations’ needs.

The 1996 World Food Summit articulated that food security could be realized when every individual consistently possessed physical and economic access to an ample supply of safe and nutritious food, aligned with their dietary preferences, enabling an active and healthy life. To achieve this end swift and well-coordinated policy actions are required. Technological advancements, coupled with innovations in agriculture and food production, are crucial to satisfy the escalating global demand for sustenance. Emphasizing the need for accelerated efforts and collaborative policies, this comprehensive approach can ensure that food security becomes a reality for all.

Acknowledging the gravity of the present situation there is a concerted global effort to address hunger and enhance food security. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a vision to eliminate hunger, attain food security, improve nutrition, and foster sustainable agriculture by 2030. However, a sobering projection in the report suggests that if the current trends persist, a staggering 575 million individuals will endure extreme poverty. This underscores the imperative for intensified and collaborative endeavors to meet these critical SDGs and alleviate the persistent issue of global food insecurity.

The SDGs report for 2023 reveals a disturbing trend since 2015, indicating a rise in the number of people grappling with hunger and food insecurity. Various factors such as the pandemic, conflicts, climate change, and rising inequalities have added to this malaise. The report estimates that in 2012, approximately 9.2% of the global population, roughly 735 million individuals, faced chronic hunger, marking an alarming increase of 122 million from 2019. Additionally, a staggering 2.4 billion people, accounting for about 29.6% of the global population, lacked access to adequate food, experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity. This estimate of 2.4 billion signifies an alarming addition of 391 million people compared to 2019 estimates, underscoring the urgency for comprehensive efforts.

Despite worldwide endeavours, as of 2022, around 45 million children under the age of 5 experienced wasting, 148 million faced stunted growth, and 37 million were grappling with obesity. To meet nutrition targets set for 2030, a crucial and transformative change in direction is imperative.

Pakistan is currently facing substantial challenges in combating hunger. As per the Global Hunger Index 2023, the country holds 102nd position out of 125, earning an overall score of 26.6. This highlights a concerning scenario for a nation with population of over 141 million, placing it as the world’s fifth-most populous country. Pakistan’s low ranking can be attributed to various contributing factors. In 2022, due to severe impact of climate change, devastating floods caused an estimated loss of over $30 billion occurring at a time when Pakistan was negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a crucial one-billion-dollar tranche as part of the extended fund facility.

Concurrently, political instability and perceived selective accountability have not only marred the overall governance system but have also contributed to earning negative rankings across diverse indices, encompassing hunger, corruption, and the rule of law. This intricate web of challenges complicates Pakistan’s efforts to address hunger and other broader socio-economic matters.

At this juncture it is important for stakeholders to assess and prioritize key issues, foremost being political stability—cornerstone for economic prosperity. Beyond adhering to the structural reforms outlined with global lenders, Pakistan should revisit its policies for attracting foreign investment and improving its position on the ease of doing business index.

Since Pakistan is an agricultural country, a strategic focus on investments in agriculture is imperative. This involves modernizing farming techniques, advocating sustainable practices, and bolstering irrigation infrastructure for increasing agriculture sector’s share in GDP together with effectively addressing the problem of food security in the country.

The government should redirect resources toward small farmers, offering them training and financial support for better performance and greater productivity. In addition to agricultural reforms, emphasis on the social sector is essential, involving targeted cash transfers, initiatives for education, raising awareness about children’s nutrition and prevention of hunger. Furthermore, the government should reassess its approach to non-governmental organizations to actively engage the private sector in addressing these challenges. It is crucial to recognize the urgency of these issues; otherwise, the consequences of hunger can be detrimental for the nation’s well-being.

Huzaima Bukhari, Dr Ikramul Haq and Abdul Rauf Shakoori, "Global hunger, food security challenges," Business recorder. 2023-12-08.
Keywords: Social sciences , Sustainable development , Resource scarcity , Economic growth , Financial support , Economic performance , Agricultural productivity , Economic access , Pakistan , GDP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *