The world is still in need of us it is obviously a tragedy that hunger still exists in our world, One of the main reasons behind this is due to the uneven distribution of Food and in some cases global policies that prevent surplus from reaching those who are absolute in Need.
According to the International Food Research Institute based in Washington, The country of Pakistan ranks 106 out of 119 countries the rating is based on several factors this includes the proportion of people suffering hunger, wasting and stunting among children and under-five mortality.
Pakistan’s own issues with hunger are very deep and grave, According to the International Food Policy Research Institue.
After Pakistan, there are other countries including Haiti, North Korea, Timor Leste, War-Torn, Yemen, and Sudan these are the countries that are standing blew Pakistan.
Above it is every other country in South Asia, India is only a few places above Pakistan at 103rd place, but given its massive population and the small successes it is having in reducing hunger, notably between 2006 and 2016, there’s cause for hope, We look around in vain for the light.
Research of countries
Some research shows that in various countries and various institutions, soup kitchens or ‘langars’ are unlikely to eliminate hunger in a country.
Surely this should be our long-term goal. In short-term crisis situations, they can be effective, as FDR demonstrated under his New Deal as the Great Depression descended upon the world or after a natural disaster.
Arguably, they can also offer some short-term benefits in other situations, but we should remember that.
Pakistan is one of the most charitable nations in the world, and ahead of most others in terms of food charity. Langars exist in many places; at darbars and shrines, at major sites for construction and in other areas across the country.
The Ehsaas-Saylani Langar Scheme set up by the PTI government may be well-intentioned, but we should remember that the giant Saylani trust, one of Pakistan’s largest charities, has been feeding people since 1999 and the 112 langars that the government tells us will be added to the one opened in Islamabad.
Including with Imran Khan joining in to eat and naturally attract the cameras already exist and are feeding people. It does not seem anything new is to be achieved.
The photographs of Imran Khan eating food with the people, most of them labourers, collected at the langar may in his eyes show his well-established interest in charity, But whether they achieve much beyond this is questionable.
The problem with soup kitchens is that only the poorest of the poor visit them. Many white-collar workers, or ‘safaid posh’, would never eat at a langar due to the need to protect dignity and status.
In many of these households, belonging to clerks, low-level office workers and others, hunger exists but is hidden behind a veil deliberately by the family so they are not seen as dependent on charity or unable to serve meals to their own household members.
As prices rise, the number of such houses across the country is rising sharply. We need a full-fledged hunger mapping study to establish just where hunger exists and how it can be tackled. Soup kitchens do not solve the problem, except for a relatively limited group.
It is always important to look around the world. Other nations have looked into the distance and set up programmes to ease hunger over years and decades and make these programmes sustainable.
Brazil, which began its drive against hunger under former union leader President Lula da Silva in 2003 is an example. By 2009.
it had lifted some 20 million people out of poverty, also enabling them to improve diets and by delivering aid in the form of direct cash transfers to the lowest income groups, ensuring 82 per cent of the 50 million people were eating better than before.
This was combined with a school meals programme and, importantly, support for small farmers so they could grow produce for their own households and also enough so they could sell to others in the community.
Such schemes are important to understand and, where possible, adapt to our own needs. After all, a food programme must be sustainable if it is to reduce stunting and wasting among children, with India achieving this to a degree, and reaching groups that are most in need of food including girls and women.
There are also other schemes that already exist and can be developed, allowing people to retain both their dignity and receive a decent meal.
A couple in Karachi serves meals to anyone who comes to their door or allows them to take as much as they need a home for a payment of only Rs3. Handing over this token amount takes away the idea that they are receiving charity or are begging for food.
In India, an ambitious programme which began with one restaurant in the south of the country to tastefully pack leftover food in boxes and leave them in a refrigerator outside the eatery, to be picked up by anyone passing by discreetly and without attracting too much attention if they so chose, has caught on and been picked up by others.
The Robin Hood Armies which operate in Pakistan and in other nations essentially follow the same idea, by collecting the huge amount of food leftover from restaurants and homes especially.
After wedding functions or other occasions – and delivering it to impoverished communities or groups. All of these programmes can be improved upon. But most important of all is the need to ensure people have jobs and an income that allows them to buy at least the basic needs of life.
Philanthropy, which in Pakistan makes up over one per cent of the GDP, shows generosity and comes even from those who can afford little themselves.
However, it is not an answer to poverty or to the provision of basic needs to people. Some countries have passed laws making food security a basic legal right of every citizen. We need to look into such legislature.