In 2015, the world pledged to seventeen goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which included ending poverty, saving the planet from environmental catastrophes, and quality health for everyone. Ending global hunger is one of these goals as well, in fact, it is the second SDG more commonly known as Zero Hunger. Like the rest of the world, Pakistan not only pledged to achieve these goals by 2030, but it also was the first country to adopt it in its parliament. Six years have passed since; therefore, it is important to look into Pakistan’s progress on this goal
Over the years, the global prevalence of hunger has increased; it is measured by the prevalence of undernourishment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 8.9% of the world population is hungry. FAO estimates that the prevalence of undernourishment in Pakistan to average 12.9% between 2018-2020, which has increased by .07% from the average of 2017-2019, which means in 2020 hunger in Pakistan will increase, which may or may not be related to the pandemic.
Pakistan’s Progress on SDGs?
Before diving into the specifics, it is important to mention general milestones that the country achieved towards surmounting the 2030 SDG targets. According to the National Voluntary Review, a 2019 review of Pakistan’s SDG progress, Pakistan developed SDG taskforces on provincial and federal levels to achieve its pledge targets along with seven SDG Support Units at federal, provincial, and federally administered units. The National Economic Council, the country’s apex economic policy-making body approved a National SDG framework, and in 2019 Ehsaas Programme was launched with many projects to achieve the SGD targets.
Setting Criteria for Measuring Progress
To measure the country’s progress first one needs to look into all the paperwork Pakistan has put into achieving this goal. What are the laws passed by the country at the federal or the provincial level? What policies it had devised to achieve these goals. Then it is important to look into what targets it has achieved and what are the challenges faced by it.
Has Pakistan achieved its SDG 2 targets?
Coming to the second SDG, Pakistan’s main target is reducing stunting in children under the age of five. The country wants its stunting levels to come to 10% instead of 44.8%, the baseline. The government is more focused on poverty alleviation—SDG one. The good news is that the country was set to reduce the level of stunting in children under the age of five to 10% by 2030, and in 2019 the stunting level had reduced to 31.5%. There were some other minor achievements as well like the country gave tax exemptions on food fortifying equipment. The country also started soup kitchens to fight hunger.
Pakistan’s Legislative progress on SDG 2
In terms of legislation passed with regards to SDG 2, there have been three Acts post-2015 that relate to this SDG. Two amongst these were passed by the Sindh Government—The Sindh Livestock Breeding Act 2016, and The Sindh Animal Breeding Act 2017. GB also passed a law in this category: The Food Act. However, when compared to SDG 8, decent work and economic growth, this number is low, as the country passed eight laws relevant to SDG 8.
How many policies did Pakistan make on SDG 2?
Furthermore, the country produced only two relevant policies pertaining to this SDG in the post-2015 era, namely The Multi-Sectorial National Nutrition Policy and the 2017 Food Security Policy. When compared to other policies that target other SDGs this number is fairly low. For the SGD one, eight, eleven, thirteen, sixteen, and seventeen the government produced four policy documents each.
Challenges to the progress
However, this progress is, at present, hinder by the on-going pandemic, which may create more hunger and reverse the stunting progress. Pakistan under SDG 2 is more focused on stunting than malnourishment overall, which is troubling in the present pandemic as it is likely to create global food supply issue, as most of the resources are diverted to fighting the pandemic.
Economy and Finance
Other than that, the country has a troubled economy in which finding funding for many of its initiatives is hard. Pakistan has low economic growth and foreign investors stay off the industries of the country because of its economic conditions. The government, on the other hand, is more focused on SDG 1, no poverty, and SDG 8, and second SDG is either largely ignored or considered a part of poverty alleviation schemes.
Knowledge and Technology Gaps
Furthermore, the knowledge and technology gap makes it hard for the country to produce local solutions for its problems. Most of the country’s policies are devised on the reliance on development sector organizations, which employ non-local solutions. What worked in Sri Lanka and India will not necessarily work in Pakistan. The government staff often relies on the development sector for data gathering and processing facilities. The governance structures in the country are weak so many successful foreign models may not even work here.
Data availability and quality
Likewise, the country works mostly on guesstimates and there have been questions raised on the authenticity of many data gathering exercises. Where reliable stats are available, qualitative data on the subject matter is missing. Best policies are evidence-based and in an environment where either data is missing or questioned such policies are hard to devise.
In a nutshell, Pakistan’s progress on SDG 2 is not as good as its performance in SDG one and eight. Only two provinces have passed laws related to it and Pakistan is a huge territory, therefore, progress in legislation is insignificant. In terms of policies, the Federal government has produced two policies related to it, but they don’t apply to the provinces. Though stunting in the country has reduced, the effects of Covid-19 can reverse this progress. Finally, small steps like soup kitchen are welcomed, but with the challenging environment in the country, it is hard to say how successful they have been.
Sustainable Development Goals | United Nations Development Programme. (2021). Retrieved 26 August 2021, from https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals
Goal 2: Zero Hunger. (2021). Retrieved 26 August 2021, from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/
FAOSTAT. (2020). Retrieved 27 August 2021, from http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#country/165
Government of Pakistan. (2019). Pakistan’s Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Voluntary National Review. Government of Pakistan. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/233812019_06_15_VNR_2019_Pakistan_latest_version.pdf
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. (2021). Retrieved 26 August 2021, from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/
What is Pakistan’s general progress on SDGs?
What is Pakistan’s progress on SDG 2?
What challenges hinder Pakistan’s progress on this SDG?
Pakistan was able to reduce its stunting levels in children under five.
Pakistan’s progress on legislative and policy work to achieve SDG 2 is unsatisfactory.
There are many challenges to achieving this SDG: the pandemic, finance and the economy, knowledge and technical gap, and data availability.