The Millennium Development Goals set by UN included a commitment to ensure further 50 percent reduction in the proportion of the world’s population who suffer from extreme hunger by 2015 — a target yet to be achieved. Though the fight against hunger has also been joined by an increased number of philanthropist around the world with concerted efforts to alleviate hunger in the developing world, still a lot more is required to be done, especially in a developing country like Pakistan where four out of 10 Pakistanis are living in acute poverty, according to Pakistan’s first-ever official report on multidimensional poverty. On the other hand with nearly half of all children chronically malnourished (stunted) and 11 percent acutely malnourished (wasted) Pakistan is on a dangerous downward trajectory. Had the welfare and charitable organizations like Edhi, Saylani, Alamgir, Aman etc. not been there to feed the hungry lot, the death rate from hunger would have touched the danger level.
Keeping in view the scenario there is a need not only for a concerted but collective effort to eradicate poverty. As such the recent partnership of AmanGhar, an initiative of the Aman Foundation and Saylani Welfare to jointly fight for eradicating child hunger and malnutrition in Pakistan can be termed as a giant leap in efforts of our welfare organizations to end hunger from the country. There can be no two opinions about the fact that collective efforts are much more effective than individual efforts for two heads are better than one. Therefore, the partnership between the two welfare organizations will definitely go a long way in solving the problem of acute malnutrition in our country. Since the purpose of all welfare organization is to eliminate poverty from the country joining hands to achieve the desired results is undoubtedly a better option. The time has come for joint efforts instead of working individually for personal image building, because such mammoth task can only be accomplished collectively.
Over a decade back AmanGhar was launched with a mission to reduce malnutrition and hunger amongst school-going children and has successfully managed to provide over 3.5 million nutritious meals to primary school children till date in one of Karachi’s most impoverished communities, KhudakiBasti. On the other hand Saylani Welfare Trust is a leading development organization that runs several food assistance programs and serves over 125,000 meals daily. The collaboration of these two organizations for a noble cause is seen as an effort in the right direction and can certainly be a working model for other welfare organizations too. Obviously because something better happens when two people sharing the same noble cause meet and connect. Such model can be expanded across Pakistan and give millions more children access to nutritious meals.
It may be mentioned here that recent global conferences have reached to a conclusion that a broader understanding of poverty is necessary to achieve the desired results. The global community now recognizes that the concept of poverty extends beyond traditional notions of limiting the activity to generous people and charitable organizations only. The time has come to tackle the issue globally.
Government spending in Pakistan on health and education is approximately 3 percent of GDP. This compares poorly to peer group countries. Considering that the Tax to GDP ratio of just over 12 per cent is also amongst the lowest in the world, a picture emerges of the inadequacy of the health and education facilities. This is the case without even considering the huge leakages on account of corruption and inefficiencies. So child hunger is a critical issue in Pakistan that risks not only the development of our children but the lives of their families and our collective future. As such it is only through working together and leveraging our institutional capabilities that we can ensure that there comes a day when every child has access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. One can hope that this new partnership takes the country one step closer to achieving that aspiration.
Nelson Mandela rightly said, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.
According to a Human Development Report South Asia, in particular, remains one of the world’ poorest regions and because it is so heavily populated, it is home to the largest number of poor people. 40 percent of world’s undernourished people live in South Asia and 24 percent in East Asia and the Pacific. So it’s for NGOs and welfare organization to wake up and pool resources to combat the menace of poverty and hunger.