Experts urge the need for equitable distribution of food, water to curb starvation, malnutrition
KARACHI: Social activists, academia and researchers have pointed out that the number of malnourished children across Sindh is increasing, urging the government to immediately adopt concrete policies in the most vulnerable areas.
Experts say that people living in the lower parts of Sindh, including Karachi, Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Jamshoro, Sanghar, Khairpur, Tharparkar and Umerkot, are facing starvation, continuous disasters and are food insecure.
“Peasant women of Sindh are playing a crucial role in food security,” said Muhammad Ali Shah, chairperson of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF).
Read: Poverty: 60.3% Pakistanis living on $2 a day
Speaking at a provincial dialogue on the ‘Charter of Demands for Institutional Setup on Food and Climate Justice’ at Mehran hotel on Friday, Shah said that despite global efforts to check the number of hungry and malnourished people, the figure is constantly rising.
The PFF has initiated week-long activities in different areas of Sindh in celebration of World Food Day.
“When I talk about nutrition I always mention equity, because I think [lack of] equity is the major cause of hunger and malnutrition — equity not only in incomes but also in food, education, health, water supply and housing,” he explained. Thus, the causes of undernourishment and death from hunger and malnutrition are primarily due to social injustice, political and economic exclusion and discrimination, he said.
Read: Combatting hunger: 61 million Pakistanis are food insecure
Shah said hundreds of millions of undernourished persons suffer from political and social exclusion and that their right to food is violated. According to him these communities do not have political power and nobody represents them or values their opinions. They are equally excluded from all access to those resources that would enable them to lead a dignified life, free from hunger, he claimed.
Prof Ismail Kumbhar from the Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam (SAU) said that our natural resources are depleting fast, which is increasing urbanisation in the country.
“Traditional artisans and workers are also food insecure in Sindh,” he said, urging the government to strengthen the monitoring mechanism to ensure the provision of food to the people. SAU vice-chancellor Dr Mujeedbuddin Sehrai urged communities to adopt a simple way of life to avoid the threat of food shortage. “People in rural areas should be encouraged to acquire different skills,” he urged.
Dr Sono Khangharani, a development expert from Tharparkar, said there is food available in warehouses but the people are suffering from hunger, starvation and malnutrition. “There is no equal distribution of food and resources,” he said. Dr Khangharani said the government should ensure the equal distribution of resources.
He pointed out that the displacement from affected areas is going on a large scale. “These people look for livelihood but they don’t find any.” He said that the government should link such issues in its policies.
“We are living in a country where government officials never think about issues of food shortage and maintaining the health of communities by ensuring the availability of a source of income and better livelihood. These people are vulnerable to disasters such as floods, cyclones and droughts,” said researcher and economist Aly Ercelan.
The speakers proposed the equal distribution of water for all irrigated and non-irrigated areas, especially to the tail-enders.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.