Food Insecurity in Pakistan: A Region-Wise Analysis of Trends

2018:157

Per capita dietary energy supply exceeds per capital dietary energy consumption in Pakistan. Almost half of its population is reported food insecure in various studies. Whether this high incidence of food insecurity persists in the country or not is understudied particularly when food security is measured from access (physical and economic) to food. This study bridges this literature gap. Using household expenditure survey based method to measure dietary energy consumption at household level as a measure of food security, it finds out region wise and quintile-wise trends in incidence of food insecurity in Pakistan during 2004-16. Seven rounds of HIES conducted during 2004-16 are used for analysis. Results show food insecurity trends are fluctuating at national and sub-national levels in Pakistan. It is increasing during 2004-08 and 2011-14 while decreasing during 2009-10 and 2014-16. Increasing trend is found in food insecurity at points in time where natural (earthquake and floods) or manmade (food price crisis, conflict) affected different areas of the country. Households’ expenditure quintile-wise trends of food insecurity show that bottom quintile has stable and high incidence of food insecurity. Second and third quintiles also have high level food insecurity. Additionally, these quintiles show high vulnerability to various shocks affecting their purchasing power. Lower but stable incidence of food insecurity in top quintile shows that apart economic aspects, food security has non-economic aspects as well like nutrition awareness/education. Provincial analysis show incidence of food insecurity is highest in Sindh and Balochistan while lowest in KPK. From our analysis it is implied that social safety nets and emergency relief efforts by government though protect food insecure population against shocks; they are not sustainable solutions. It is implied from trends analysis that sustainable solutions to protect both physical and economic access to food are required in Pakistan to cut hunger to lower levels and reduce people vulnerability to various shocks.