In recent years, Pakistan has produced more food than its population consumes and has become 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, economic instability, and recurring natural disasters—including drought, earthquakes, and floods—exacerbate food insecurity and disrupt livelihood opportunities, particularly in rural areas. Approximately 60 percent of Pakistan’s population is facing food insecurity, and malnutrition is highly prevalent, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP). WFP reports that 44 and 15 percent of Pakistani children younger than 5 years of age are stunted and suffer from acute malnutrition, respectively.
Following the 2018 May-to-August monsoon season, Pakistan experienced acute shortages of fodder, food, and water due to rising temperatures, decreasing rainfall, and adverse effects of the El Niño climate cycle, exacerbating drought conditions in some areas. As of August 2019, the GoP estimated that drought affected approximately 5 million people in 26 districts of Pakistan’s Balochistan and Sindh provinces. Additionally, severe drought-like conditions have emerged over much of southern Pakistan and are expected to worsen through 2023, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
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 more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees are living in Pakistan.
To date in FY 2019, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has contributed $18 million to WFP to assist people unable to meet their basic food and nutrition needs. FFP funding enables WFP to distribute conditional in-kind and cash-based assistance to people. In return for assistance, beneficiaries participate in livelihoods trainings or provide labor on projects that improve community recovery and resilience, such as agricultural infrastructure. FFP also supports nutrition activities for women and children at risk of acute malnutrition.
FFP’s contribution includes the twinning of wheat to meet the acute needs of vulnerable, displaced populations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Through this partnership, WFP distributes GoP-donated wheat with complementary funding from FFP, which facilitates commodity fortification, bagging, transportation, handling, and delivery.
FFP works with the UN Children’s Fund to provide preventive and curative community nutrition services, including the provision of therapeutic foods, for children younger than five years of age and pregnant and lactating women.