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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.


COVID-19 support to Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of National Food Security & Research

Partner/Donor: FCDO – Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Duration: Aug. 2020 -Feb. 2021

Team lead for Food Security Dashboard feasibility study: Dr Abid Q. Suleri

Team lead for SMEs related work: Dr Vaqar Ahmed


SDPI is currently working with support from Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to assist the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of National Food Security and Research in assessing COVID-related losses to export-oriented Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the objective to prepare a crisis management food security plan to cope with the negative effects of COVID-19 on food security and food supply chain.

As literature suggests, 1% decline in global demand leads to 1.2-1.5% decline in Pakistan’s overall exports. The prolonged lockdowns as a result of the pandemic outbreak have impacted exports through disruption in supply chains, border closure to nonessential trade, and limited market for exports due to fall in demand. There is, therefore, a need to arrive at a better understanding of transmission channels through which COVID-19, low global demand, and volatility in oil and energy markets will impact Pakistan’s exports of goods and services and how the government can support SMEs to better deal with the challenges emerging out of the pandemic.

The study includes both the traditional and non-traditional export industries.

Likewise, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research has sought SDPI’s help in preparing a response plan to ensure food security amid various scenarios of smart lockdown, which has the potential to affect the already grim situation of food security and Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for the continuation of agri-operations to avoid any supply shocks or disruption in food supply chain.

Scope of study

The study will provide an assessment of the data available for setting up a national data facility for essential food commodities vital for achieving food security and maintaining food supply chains across the country to manage supply and demand to avoid any untoward situation.

SOPs for agriculture sector

The study suggests how the safety of people working along the food supply chain from COVID-19 transmission can be ensured. This will guide on setting SOPs on COVID-19 safety which can be adopted by producers and processors.

Project Outcomes

Intervention – I

  1. SDPI’s own work hints at balancing interventions (e.g. through fiscal stimulus) across small, medium, and large exporters and make special provisions for new and potential exporters. COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity to rethink current structure of incentives and design response in a manner that not only promotes level playing field but also helps spur innovation.
  2. We expect that evidence-based suggestions to refine response, relief, and recovery for trade sector could result in improved knowledge available with the Ministry of Commerce; help feed in to any changes to existing trade, tariff, and investment policies; and support changes in export promotion strategies, including trade diplomacy.
  3. The objective of our research, outreach, and policy engagement is to strengthen both demand-and supply-side. In the interest of strengthening public accountability, we will present our draft findings to members of parliament’s Standing Committees on Commerce and Industries. The goal is to sensitize them regarding pressure on current trade eco-system and future priorities.

Intervention II:

  1. Production of a detailed study on the structure for central data facility: It aims to analyze and monitor food supplies and demands to better support policymakers about food shortages, bottlenecks in logistics and controlling food prices. The aim is to compile list of indicators on which data is available which could inform on stocks, needs and future requirements at the district level. It will provide government with much needed information about supply and demand as well as whistle blowing threshold.
  2. Study on rapid needs assessment for a select crop system: This will help prepare SoPs for producers and processors. For sustained agricultural production, it would be essential to prepare and train producers as well as processors on how to use procedures without jeopardizing their lives and livelihoods. This assessment will also help design future awareness campaigns to minimize disinformation about food shortages.

Saving Lives and Livelihoods by supporting Food Security, Small and Medium Enterprises and Universal Social Protection Mechanisms to coup with COVID 19 Impacts in Pakistan

Project Partner/Donor: IDRC

Project Duration: 36 Months

Team members: Thematic Team Leads 1. Dr Abid Suleri Team Food Security. 2. Dr Vaqar Ahmed Team Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and 3. Dr Sajid Amin Team Social Protection

Project Introduction: This project has a multi-sectoral thematic focus and looks to support the Government of Pakistan, in the wake of COVID-19, in maintaining essential economic activity, and protecting workers and smaller producers. Key elements of this project include documenting evidence on COVID-19’s impact, evidence-based input informing response strategies during relief and recovery phases, and strengthening local research with the focus on food security, small to medium enterprises (SMEs), and social protection systems.

Project Objectives:
Short and Medium Term: 
– Exploratory Research for evidence of impact
– Preliminary assessment of data/evidence
– Evidence generation for setting up a food security dashboard
– Mapping and assessment of govt. response to COVID 19
– Meta analysis of existing literature to gauge global best practices for respective sectors
Long Term:
– Gearing towards evidence-based recovery  strategies
– Consolidation of lessons learned from previous phases
– Multipronged advocacy and outreach strategy
Cross-cutting Objectives:
– Media engagement for research findings dissemination
– Creation and strengthening of existing platforms for dialogue between public and private stakeholders

Project Outcomes:
– To propose policies for ensuring food security and economic recovery, which are inclusive in job creation and aligned with SDGs’ priority agenda of federal and provincial governments.
– To produce consolidated research on effectiveness of government stimulus plans in the above-mentioned areas.
– Through advocacy, sensitize policymakers on the issues of policy concerns and setting priorities for investment in the upcoming and the following annual budgets.

Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation


Team Members: Syed Qasim Ali Shah, DR. Abid Qaiyum Suleri.


SDPI launched an appraisal mission with the objective to assist the WFP Country Office in formulating a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) document for 2013-15. The appraisal mission consisted of national and international experts on Food Security & Nutrition, Livelihoods, School Feeding Expert and Disaster Analyst.

The document was supposed to develop the rationale for a three-year programme as the most appropriate response to Pakistan’s challenges of maintaining social stability given the deteriorating  household food and nutrition security situation in the country due to repeated natural disasters  and the compounding effects of the war on terror, particularly in KP and FATA.

The document formulated by the mission refined the overall objectives, scope, size and geographical coverage based on empirical research, experiences and lessons from the ongoing programme in country and align it with the priorities of government, donors and the UN. Emphasis was laid on proposing strategies for the resourcing of the proposed WFP operation (resource mobilization strategy) as well as on food security and nutrition analyses.

Food Security & Nutrition Analysis 2012-13

Partner: WFP & Ministry of Food Security and Research

Duration: 2012 to 2013

Locale: All districts/ agencies of Pakistan, Islamabad, FATA, GB and AJK

Team Members:  Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Shakeel Ahmad, Dua Shabbir Sayed


The study aims to capture an updated picture of food security situation in the country since SDPI’s previous food security analysis of 2009, particularly after the floods of 2010-11.

SDPI in collaboration with WFP has been ranking districts of Pakistan on the basis of food security and gives a comparison of the current food security situation with the year 2003. It should also serve as a useful planning tool for designing meaningful social safety nets and evolving a national food security strategy. It will help the government target the most food insecure population while implementing five year plan and social safety net programs. The report also aims to help bilateral donors and friends of Pakistan in targeting their assistance to the most marginalized and poverty stricken areas of Pakistan. It will also help understand the “potential militancy food insecurity nexus” a crucial element to eliminate the root cause of militancy.

The FSA 2003 report, the first of its kind in Pakistan, compared 120 districts of the country on the basis of their food insecurity. The report concluded that 37.6 per cent of rural population was food insecure. The 2010 report revealed a sharp from 2003, when conditions of food security were inadequate in 45 per cent districts (i.e.; 54 out of 120). Almost half of population (48.6 per cent) doesn’t have access to sufficient food for active and healthy life at all times.

Following a selection of indicators related to the three pillars of food security (i.e. food availability, access and utilization), secondary data was collected. Major government surveys such as Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) and Household Integrated Economic survey (HIES) were also used. The data was then analyzed to develop a ranking of all the districts of Pakistan with respect to each indicator. An assessment of overall food security was also made using kilo caloric intake (using data from HIES and a food basket determined by the Planning Commission) as the principal indicator.

With the completion of the secondary analysis, a consultation with representatives from relevant provincial departments and ministries was held to incorporate their feedback into the results. To further validate the results, collection of primary data was initiated.


  • To produce a report on the status of Food Security and Nutrition  in Pakistan
  • To provide and up-to-date database on key indicators of food security and nutrition


  • Secondary data analysis (national and provincial surveys)
  • Baseline household surveys
  • Stakeholder consultations
  • Publication of a research report

Climate Change and Food Security Project

Partner: CGIAR

Team Members: Shakeel Ahmed


CGIAR, an umbrella organization of agriculture research institutions, engaged SDPI to prepare an annotated bibliography of research on food security, vulnerability to climate variability, containing approximately 150 sources. Following the completion of the bibliography, an atlas mapping food insecurity in the region would be created

With the help of the identified and reviewed a list of national, regional and international secondary sources on food security and climate change annotated bibliography of about 130 select research papers, reports, policy briefs etc has also been compiled. Moreover, SDPI with the help of a team of experts has drafted GIS-based graphs and maps for the visual representation of food security & climate change situation in Pakistan.

Provincial workshops were also organized to disseminate and share the findings.

Food Security Analysis of Pakistan

Partner: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the World Food Program (WFP)
Year: 2008-09


Food security is determined by a combination of three factors: physical availability, economic access and effective absorption. The stability of these factors is also important, as efforts to ensure security can be undermined by volatility. The recent surge in food prices hold serious implications for poverty and political security, to which food security is inevitably bound. Riots related to food prices have been erupting in developing countries including the Philip-pines, Egypt, Haiti, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Pakistan should not be considered an exception.

Following the flagship study undertaken in 2003 by SDPI, the Food Security Analysis (FSA) 2003, SDPI has again undertaken the FSA with a view to assessing the state of food security in various districts of Pakistan and exposing its interlinkages with violence and peace. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the World Food Program (WFP), and undertook the ranking of 135 districts of Pakistan in terms of their food insecurity. It was found that the 20 districts with the worst food insecurity in 2003 are today the worst militancy hit districts in Pakistan.


The FSA aimed to identify the districts requiring immediate donor or government intervention; to plan results oriented implementation of development projects in food insecure areas; and to identify changes in cropping patterns due to climate change over the last 5 years. The Assessment found that food access and the law and order situation both affect each other in crucial ways, while governance can play an active role in determining food inflation and affordability.

Social Dimensions of Food Insecurity in Pakistan

Partner: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (USA)

Year: 2008-09

This paper was prepared for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (USA). The paper, while exploring the hunger-militancy nexus, builds the case that steady increases in the number of food-insecure individuals have led to class conflict (between haves and have- nots) and violence that ultimately weakens the state. Individual (food) insecurity threatens national, regional and global security by intensifying ?extraordinary behavior, giving rise to suicides, militancy, the selling of children, and hastening the loss of dignity. In order to win the ?war against terrorism?, international community should not rely on guns only, but also ensure food security in Pakistan to ensure security at the individual level.

As part of the campaign to increase awareness about food insecurity and associated issues, SDPI representatives delivered lectures in Lahore, Islamabad and Washington DC.

Food Insecurity in Pakistan 2009

Team Members:  Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri

Based on a composite index of the above-mentioned pillars of food security, it is observed that the state of food security in Pakistan has deteriorated since 2003. The conditions for food security are inadequate in 61 percent districts (80 out of 113 districts) of Pakistan. This is a sharp increase from 2003, when conditions for food security were inadequate in 45 percent districts (54 out of 120 districts) of Pakistan. Almost half of the population of Pakistan (48.6 percent) doesn’t have access to sufficient food for an active and healthy life at all times.

The report comes up with substantial evidence that inter and intra provincial disparities exist in terms of food security. FATA has the highest percentage of food insecure population (67.7 percent) followed by Balochistan (61.2 percent), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) (56.2 percent). The lowest percentage of food insecure population (23.6 percent) is in Islamabad. Among the districts, Dera Bugti in Balochistan has the highest percentage of food insecure people (82.4%). Balochistan has the higher number of districts with worst conditions for food security. The 20 districts of Pakistan with worst conditions for food security include 10 districts from Balochistan, 5 from FATA; 3 from KPK, and 1 from Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Sindh each. The number of districts from Balochistan in this category has doubled since 2003. Dera Bugti, Musa Khel, Upper Dir, North Waziristan, Kohistan, Muhammand, Dalbadin, South Waziristan, Orakzai, and Panjgur are the 10 districts with worst conditions for food security in Pakistan.

It was concluded that the potential militancy-food security nexus cannot be ignored in Pakistan and requires a change in paradigm where food insecurity should not only be treated merely as a humanitarian issue, but a national security issue.

Further information can be obtained from Dr. Abid Suleri.

Food Security: Where we are (current status) and where we want to go (Way forward)

Partner: UNDP

Year: 2008-09


This study was conducted for UNDP’s ‘Strengthening Democracy through Strengthening Parliament Project’, primarily to educate parliamentarians on the issue of food security in Pakistan and possible ways to address this issue. The paper looks at the reasons behind recent food crises across the globe, including climate change, food prices, oil prices, bio-fuel production, and shortfalls in stocks of food, commodity market speculation and increasing demand coming from China and India. The authors conclude that amongst other reasons, the recent food crisis in Pakistan was primarily due to mismanagement and bad governance.


A number of recommendations were issued in combating the problem of food security in Pakistan. The research recommended an overhaul of the market system, especially relating to food markets, and improvements to the management of food stocks. Moreover, governance across the nation is in dire need of reform and the culture of nepotism, rent seeking and favoritism must be combated in order to address issues of food security. Other recommendations include the short to medium term aim of establishing safety nets for those already experiencing chronic and extreme food insecurity and, on the medium term, government focus on availability of affordable food. The report notes that legislators should not only focus on policy and laws that would enhance food production, but should also focus on measures that would ensure sustained access to food as well as factors helping in food absorption.

Seed Bank in Pakistan

Team Members: Shakeel Ahmed, Fareeha Mehmood


Unfortunately, Pakistan does not have any national agriculture policy. Absence of policy created number of problems for agriculture. Keeping in view the importance of seed industry and in order to address the problems faced by the stakeholders in agriculture and seed sector, a desk study coupled with interviews from concerned stake holders was conducted by SDPI during December 2011 – June 2012. This study was intended to highlight and identify the current status of seed industry in Pakistan and suggested the solutions for the problems faced by the informal sector within the seed industry.


  • Current Status of Seed Industry in Pakistan
  • What is the difference between formal and informal sector within the Seed Industry in Pakistan and role of multinational companies in seed sector
  • What are the policies, laws and regulations governing the Seed Industry in Pakistan
  • What is the institutional framework within the Seed Industry and how it operates in Pakistan
  • Devise solutions and strategies in order to address the shortcomings within the seed industry and highlight the importance of community seed bank in Pakistan
  • Introduce the concept of regional seed banks and its benefits and operational modalities after consulting the concerned stake holders.

This study shows that the seed industry has been divided in to formal and informal sectors. The formal sector constitutes the national and multinational companies whereas the informal sector comprises farmer-driven agricultural system.