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Express Tribune

Published Date: Apr 25, 2012

NATIONAL ZERO HUNGER ACTION PLAN TERMED RIGHT, TIMELY

Appreciating Pakistan’s ‘National Zero Hunger Action Plan,’ experts believed that, the plan is right and timely initiative towards addressing hunger and malnutrition in the country. They also lauded government’s recognition of food insecurity problem and said next step is the efficient implementation of plan in consultation and coordination with the provinces.
The speakers were discussing at a panel discussion on Pakistan’s “National Zero Hunger Action Plan” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Tuesday. Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Senior Research Associate, SDPI moderated the proceedings.
Participants were informed that Zero Hunger plan is five year program that aims to reach to a total of 61 million food insecure people across the country with a total cost of 16 billion US dollars. The program includes provision of nutritious and fortified food commodities to most food insecure and vulnerable sections of society particularly malnourished children, pregnant women and primary school children. The program also features school feed programme and establishment of ‘zero hunger shops’ in 45 extremely food insecure districts in Pakistan.
Kevin Gallagher, Country Representative, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Islamabad said that Zero Hunger Plan is in compliance of governments obligations under the right to food which entails provision of nutritious food for everyone. He appreciated the Zero Hunger Plan and said, it would provide opportunities to vulnerable people which also place conditional obligation on them to secure food by their own.
Jean-Luc Siblot, Country Representative, World Food Programme (WFP), Islamabad appreciated the efforts of government of Pakistan in combating food insecurity and launch of Zero Hunger Plan. This, he said, reflects very high level of commitment towards addressing hunger and WFP will continue its support towards the successful accomplishment of Zero Hunger Plan.
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI deliberated that food security is not ensured through surplus production rather it demands adequate physical availability, socio-economic access and absorption of nutritious food to meet dietary requirements of everyone.
He said, it’s good that after consistent denials, government has acknowledged food insecurity as a problem. “We cannot progress in a situation where more than half of our population is food insecure, anemic and malnourished,” he went on to add. He also cited a study by DFID which reveals that economic cost of Iodine and vitamin deficiency in Pakistan equals to 2.5percent of GDP.
Talking of Zero Hunger Plan, he said, it faces many real challenges but we can learn from Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico where these programmes are running successfully.