Islamabad (13 Sep 2022): Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety, Shazia Marri resolved to achieve SDGs target to eradicate hunger and poverty while ensuring safe and nutritious food by 2030 and end all forms of malnutrition by 2035 in the country.
While addressing the sideline session on “Ending Hunger and Malnutrition” of the 3rd Inter-Parliamentary Union Regional Seminar on Achieving SDGs, Federal Minister Shazia Marri said that COVID-19 and the recent floods have pushed the people into food insecurity.
The sideline session was aimed to discuss ways to successfully address population needs through the promotion of adequate policies and laws across sectors, including health, agriculture, education and gender equality, and to implement the SDGs by maximizing the available domestic resources for nutrition.
During the address, Federal Minister Shazia Marri referred to the report of The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) titled 2021 Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition and said that more than 375 million in the region faced hunger. She added that inflation, economic instability, and climate change disasters were leading towards food insecurity.
Federal Minister Shazia Marri said that we could fight food insecurity by investing in health, education and nutrition. While mentioning the success of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) intervention of Benazir Income Support Programme to increase the uptake of health and nutrition services of its beneficiaries, she said that by investing in food security and increasing nutrition, we could save the future generation.
During his address, she said that Pakistan was paying a huge price for carbon emission by other countries. Because of climate change, the recent rains had resulted in catastrophic floods, resulting in 33 million displaced citizens and over 1300 deaths. Moreover, 65% of the major crops, including cotton, dates, onion and rice, were destroyed, resulting in increased risk of malnutrition. She feared that agriculture production would fall in the years to come due to severe droughts.
Federal Minister Shazia Marri appreciated the appeal by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the world to help Pakistan during this difficult time.
Mehnaz Akber Aziz, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, as a moderator of the session, remarked that the calamity-stricken Pakistan needed the support of the international community when crops, livestock, schools, health facilities and infrastructure had been destroyed. She feared that 40% of the population would be living under the poverty line if the same situation continues.
Mehnaz Akber Aziz said that the 3rd Inter-Parliamentary Union Regional Seminar had provided the opportunity to huddle together and find solutions to the challenges being faced by the member countries.
Silvia Kaufmann from Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement underlined that better nutritional intake could help children to perform better in education, which ultimately help them to generate better income. She said that by investing in nutrition, a country could fight inequality and injustice.
Silvia Kaufmann said that nutrition was directly linked to all 17 SGDs. She blamed the Ukrainian conflict for the rise in malnutrition and hunger in the world since the political conflict had disrupted the food supply chain resulting in price increase.
She said that 1 in 5 children were suffering from stunted growth, while in South Asia women were more food insecure than men.
Silvia Kaufmann said that we had the knowledge and resources to fight malnutrition, we just needed to make appropriate policies to achieve the target. She said that parliamentarians, through policies, could help to end hunger and malnutrition.
Kraisid Tontisirin, Member of the Bureau of the IPU Standing Committee on Sustainable Development and MP of Thailand, expressed solidarity with the Pakistani people suffering due to the floods.
Kraisid Tontisirin said that Thailand had achieved success in alleviating mass malnutrition. He said hunger and malnutrition could be tackled by ensuring a healthy diet, sanitation, better health facilities and monitoring of the citizens. In order to fight malnutrition, he said that Thailand’s government joined hands with community organizations to come up with mass mobilization to implement schemes for better health of the community. He opined that parliamentarians through legislation, oversight of development programmes and representation of their people could bring a positive change in the health of the citizens.
Sharada Devi Bhatta, a dignitary from Nepal, remarked that for a nation to be successful, child and mother’s health was critical. She urged the dignitaries to put special attention on the health of the younger population and women.
A dignitary from Iran, Malek Fazel said that the success of any country depends on its human resource. He was of the view that a healthy population was more productive, which could help to eradicate poverty. Furthermore, if the education of girls was improved, then only a country could develop.
Dr Saba, while representing UNICEF in the seminar, said that when we were talking about nutrition, we were actually talking about the development of a country.
She informed that approximately half of the girls were anemic in the country. She said that to deal with malnutrition, we should adopt a multi-sectoral approach in which all components had to be aligned and work together to achieve the goal of food security.