Pakistan is one of the world’s largest producers of wheat, rice, livestock and a number of other agricultural products. It is a food surplus country with stable food availability. Food security is poor, however, as access to food is limited by poverty and high levels of inflation. As a result, Pakistan has alarmingly high rates of malnutrition, particularly among women and children. Nearly half of the children living in Pakistan experience stunted growth and most of them suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Although the Pakistani government has taken some steps to reduce food insecurity, such efforts are subject to political whims, economic realities or, in some cases, prove simply ineffective.

Pakistan’s water security is also under considerable pressure. Most water sources are over-exploited, due to the increasing population, a large number of agricultural practices and poor management. Pakistan’s extensive irrigation system is also one of the least efficient in the world and loses up to 60 percent of the water it transports. Climate change is also predicted to put pressure on water supplies. Although it is not projected to reduce inflow into water bodies, it is likely to increase variability, leading to more severe floods and droughts. Water quality is also poor and water supplies are often tainted with faecal contamination, pesticides or industrial runoff. As a result, water-borne illnesses are common and a leading cause of death.

MALEEHA SHOAIB,

Islamabad.