In recent years, Pakistan has become a food surplus country and a major producer of wheat and rice. However, the poorest and most vulnerable people in Pakistan cannot afford a sufficient and nutritious diet despite the overall growth in food production. Chronic poverty, recurring natural disasters, protracted instability and humanitarian access challenges persist in some parts of the country.
• Ongoing conflict between the Government of Pakistan (GoP) and militant groups, recurring natural disasters—including drought, earthquakes and floods—and economic instability exacerbate food insecurity and disrupt livelihood opportunities, particularly in rural areas. Approximately 60 percent of the population is facing food insecurity and malnutrition is highly prevalent, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP). WFP reports that 44 percent of Pakistani children younger than 5 years of age are stunted and 15 percent suffer from acute malnutrition.
• As of January 2019, drought affects approximately 26 districts in Balochistan and Sindh provinces, resulting in crop and livestock losses and high levels of household food insecurity, the UN reports. Drought affected individuals reportedly face difficulty meeting their basic needs and are consuming less preferred foods to cope. Farming households lack access to sufficient water, seeds and fertilizer for crop cultivation and livestock disease and death adversely affects livestock-rearing communities, undermining livelihoods. Malnutrition levels in drought affected provinces are alarmingly high. The UN estimates the drought affects 4 million people in southern Pakistan.
• Nearly 17,000 vulnerable Pakistani families remain displaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPk) Province—including the areas formerly known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)—due to conflict, the GoP reports. Relief actors also estimate that nearly 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees are living in Pakistan.
• USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) contributed $19 million to WFP in FY 2018 to meet the basic food and nutrition needs of vulnerable people and those affected by natural disasters and other shocks. FFP support provides in-kind food assistance sourced from local and regional markets and enables WFP to distribute conditional food and cash assistance to people in exchange for their participation in livelihoods trainings and labor on projects that improve community recovery and resilience, such as agricultural infrastructure. Additionally,
FFP supports nutrition activities for women and children.
• FFP’s contribution includes the twinning of wheat to meet the emergency needs of vulnerable, displaced populations in KPk, including FATA. This partnership pairs GoP-donated wheat with complementary funding from FFP for associated costs, such as fortification, bagging, transportation, handling and distribution.
• FFP, through its partner the UN Children’s Fund, supports preventive and curative community nutrition services, including the provision of therapeutic foods, for children younger than 5 years of age and pregnant and lactating women suffering from acute malnutrition.