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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Dec 13, 1012

EXPERTS DISCUSS DEVELOPMENT IN THE SOUTH ASIAN CONTEXT

State Minister for National Food Security and Research Moazzam Khan Jatoi has said that the government is in the final stages to launch a National Food Security Council to address the issue of food insecurity in the country. He was speaking on the second day of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI) annual Sustainable Development Conference.

The three-day conference, titled “Sustainable Development in South Asia: Shaping the Future” is looking at the future of sustainable development in South Asia. Delegates from South Asian countries as well as 15 other countries around the world are participating in the conference.

The minister said the government is pursuing a national zero hunger programme to address hunger and malnourishment in Pakistan. However, he differed with the country’s food insecurity statistics and said that they are estimated a bit high.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri, while addressing participants, said that effective research and evidence-based studies help in gauging the effectiveness of government policies. Dr Suleri also explained that food security is not ensured by food production alone, which is commonly considered a benchmark for food security, adding that the universal access to food and its consumption must be the priority for states in this region.

During another session on food security, panelists discussed ‘integrated food security phase classification’, (IPC) a special situational analysis tool developed by the World Food Programme, which is being used to measure food security in Pakistan. The session concluded on the consensus that IPC has the potential to be a highly useful tool in determining the level of food insecurity in Pakistan. While there are some shortcomings in the IPC framework, these can be addressed in collaboration with the Global Support Unit, which is working diligently to address those issues.

The government is pursuing a national zero hunger programme to address hunger and malnourishment in Pakistan

During a session titled ‘climate change triggers migration’, eminent social activist Feryal Gohar said the absence of women voices in mainstream government policies  creates barriers in reaching out to the government in times of environmental crisis. SDPI Board of Governors member Shafqat Kakakhel commented on the vulnerability of women in times of humanitarian crises. United Nations Women Country Director Lena Lindberg said that migration undermines economic growth, threatens social stability, and widens gender and poverty gaps. She said that women are forced to work on farms when their men migrate for better economic opportunities, as a consequence of an environmental disaster. Other experts discussed different aspects of the topic with relation to women’s economic roles.