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Human and food security in South Asia

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Authors: Areeja Syed and Fatima Ahmed

This world in which we are living is a very insecure and prone place where problems like   poverty, crisis, conflicts, negative peace, natural disasters, economic instability, violence, health problems, environmental issues and deficient food have surrounded a human from all sides. Human is insecure in the presence of these problems and this is what we call human insecurity. (GASPER n.d).There are many challenges to overcome human insecurity like to give environmental security, food, health, psychological security and many more to humans. In this article we will particularly talk about food security which is one of the most prominent challenges to human security in the contemporary world.

Food Security

In 1974,World Food Conference was held which defined food security with regard to guarantee stable supply and price constancy of basic foodstuffs at the system and state level.  The form in which all the people of the world have access to food, whether it is economic, social, physical, but everyone should have access to food to have a healthy and active and nutritious lifeIn 1983, The analysis of FAO mainly focused on food access and they also emphasized on the economic access, stability and the demand-supply aspect. (Food and agriculture organization of the united nations. 1996).

Food security comprises of four main components in which the first is the availability of food, it means whether everyone is getting enough and sufficient food according to their need. Second the accessibility of food which focuses on the income and sources of an individual that whether they are having ample and enough income, to buy food for them and their family. Although it’s primary concern is income but it also analyses gender, literacy and employment status. It also highlights that despite accessibility to food, people are unable to access quality food which results in malnutrition e.g. Indian Famine in West Bengal in 1943. In the case of South Asia, despite having access to food, there is less improvement in malnutrition.

Third aspect of food security is the constancy of food, which implies people should have stable, constant and permanent access to food all the time without having any risk or fear of losing economic or physical accessibility in various conditions like natural disasters, wars, economic deprivation. Especially when the global prices of food fluctuates, the South Asian governments finds it a challenge to ensure food security for its people. For this purpose they provide different types of incentives to farmers to maintain balance between demand and supply (Amjad,2010).Fourth aspect is the nutritious and biological aspect of food which implies that individuals are getting healthy and clean eatery and water which will ensure healthy and active lifestyles of the people.

Reason of Food insecurity in south Asia

1.SAARC countries population growth:

The population of SAARC countries is 22 percent of total population of the world with India alone contributing about 1.17 billion people (over 17 %) to it. The shares of Pakistan and Bangladesh in world’s population stand at 2.5 and 2.4 percent respectively. The population growth rate has slowed down overtime in almost all the countries with Sri Lanka attaining a population growth rate of 1.3. Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan also have moved in that direction, though Pakistan still has a high rate of population growth.

2. Urbanization/Migration from rural to Urban Areas:

   The urban poor are generally more vulnerable to food insecurity resulting from shocks like high inflation. Despite high population growth in rural areas the reduction in the percentage of rural population in almost all the countries (except Sri Lanka during the period 1991-2006) points to an accelerated migration from rural to urban areas. This migration results from both pull and push factors working simultaneously. Cities offer higher wage and better employment opportunities as well as greater availability of services like heath care and education. The push factors that force migrants to leave rural areas include factors like displacement by conflict, disasters, droughts,landlessness, land degradation, and population pressures on land. The growth of cities on one hand inflates the population of net food buyers and on the other hand reduces arable land by converting productive agricultural land and water resources to residential and industrial uses. Thus, the process of urbanization is a potential threat to food security in the region.

Climate change:

Agricultural production in South Asia is also prone to high risks resulting from high variations in weather. The future projections of climate change indicates that South Asia is very likely to be affected by warming during this century. The availability of freshwater is projected to decrease and coastal areas will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and rivers. It is predicted that a rise in temperature may reduce yields of rice, wheat, other cereals, and certain cash significantly. Various sub-sectors of agriculture bear the effect and contribute to global climate change. Any neglect or failure on part of the countries of the region to develop and adopt technologies for climate change mitigation and adaptation of agriculture to sustainable resource use and environment friendly improved practices may lead to severe food insecurity in the region.(Amjad,2010)

A Way Forward

 Nearly 40 percent of the world’s hungry lives in South Asia, even before the food price crisis of 2008. Hunger silently stalks the entire region, from the steep mountain slopes of Nepal to the dry, arid plains of southern Afghanistan. (Farooq 2016)Although large scale famines have largely been kept at bay, millions of poor people in Bangladesh, unable to afford two meals a day are left literally clutching at straws. On the other hand, a declining trend in per capita food production and supply is observed in most of the South Asian Countries except India and Pakistan. In this context, the achievement of food security in the region can be facilitated by the members of SAARC. They should extend its cooperation in food production within the member states and should work towards some regional cooperation

1. Regional Trade: There is a need to have regional trade, countries under one region need to import and export, which is beneficial for every state within the region.

2. Cooperation in technologies :technology sharing network for these crops can bring a considerable boost in production of these valuable food grains for attaining and sustaining broader food security in the region. (Pakistan Today 2018)

3. Revisiting SAARC Food Banking Mechanism: The idea of establishing SAARC Food Reserve was floated in 1988, the prime underlying aim was to provide regional support to national food security efforts and solve regional food shortages through collective actions but it is not operationalized yet so there is a need for practical implementation as well

4. Coping Strategies for Disasters: Given that natural disasters do not always care for national boundaries. Cross-boundary issues of disaster management should be addressed through enhanced regional cooperation. (Farooq 2016)

It is now the need of the hour that there should be some regional co-operation in order to eradicate the food insecurity specially by structuralism and by the practical implementation of the above suggestions, there is a need to eradicate all the hatred between the states like India and Pakistan and they must focus on human security. It is the responsibility of the states to give security to their people. The states should place human security at the centre of national policy making. Regional cooperation can assist the states to extend and promote human security to other countries as well.

Author is pursuing MPhil in International Relations from COMSATS University Islamabad. Her area of research focuses on International Security, Strategic issues and Public Diplomacy.

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South Asia

The efficiency of German contribution in the Afghan peace process

Ajmal Sohail

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Germany is heavily involved in the afghan affairs since 9.11.2001; the country has brought in to being the modern Afghanistan thru launching the international Bonn conference “Bonn 1” in December 2001, the said conference toke place right after the collapse of the barbaric regime of Taliban in Afghanistan. Furthermore, it paved the way to engage several rival groups to establish an interim administration under the leadership of pro-American figure “Hammed Karzai”. Albeit the conference was a turning point in the Afghan modern history, but it encompassed numerous shortcomings because Taliban, Haqani Network and Hikmatyar band, who had been the main adversaries to the acting Government, were excluded from the process, which opened Pandora’s Box. Moreover, the national interests and apprehensions of the regional countries were not taken serious, which in turn caused destabilization and gloominess in Afghanistan.

Consequently, Pakistan and Iran who have been pursuing strategic depth in Afghanistan began to regroup, fund, train and outfit the Afghan government antagonists, which unfortunately incited a proxy war in the country. 

The second Bonn conference

Germany hosted the second Bonn conference in December the 5th 2011 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first Bonn conference, in order to renew the so-called mutual commitment to a table, democratic and prosperous future for Afghanistan.

In addition, the participants of the conference ought to shed lights on some issues such as governance, security, economic developments, regional cooperation, peace process and the way forward. The participants called for a political solution to achieve peace and security in Afghanistan, in order to ensure durable stability.

Additionally, it was discussed to promote capacity building in the country to uphold   a political process, to endorse negotiation and reconciliation. Unfortunately, the conference primarily focused on economic developments and continuation of democratization in the country, so that the peace process was sidelined and the root-cause of the instability and insecurity was not identified. Which ended up with further destabilization and blood-shed in addition, sparked fears and violence in Afghanistan.

Doha conference

In July the 7th 2019 Germany and Qatar hosted a conference in Doha Qatar, which was labeled intra-afghan dialogue. The hosting countries endeavored to bring about a framework in order to support the peace process in Afghanistan. In accordance with the joint statement, that the country is at a central crossroad to snatch the chance to accomplish peace, so the shortest concord linking the afghan adversary groups could be one of the essential factors of any process leading to such an objective.

It was also expect, that the conference would contribute to confidence-building amid chief rivals to hold up peace and constancy in Afghanistan. Although the conference did not have a tangible agenda, but at the end a resolution was released calling for reducing violence, avoiding to assail public institution and bringing civilian causalities to “zero”.  Despite the efforts of the conference hosting countries, the conference comprised inadequacies; the Afghan government, which ought to be the main party, was excluded from the direct-intra-afghan-dialogue.

Not only the ceasefire, which has been the only wish of the Afghans, was not sincerely addressed, but also no-part of the outlined resolution has been implemented. Regrettably convening of the conference did not put into practice the expectations of the Afghan people, so that the security situation fundamentally deteriorated.  

The third Bonn conference

Subsequent, to the walk out of the US president from the Afghan peace deal, Germany wants to jump in exerting its leverage to bring the Afghan rivalry bodies to the negotiation table. Germany is really concerned, if the US troops withdrawal will take place Kabul government would collapse and the positive developments have so far came about would be lost. Thus Markus Potzel Germany’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, since some times endeavors to hold meetings with the representatives of both Taliban and the Afghan government, in order to initiate another round of peace talks.  

 Consequently, If Germany genuinely put forth its efforts, it will help to avoid political vacuum in Kabul, let the democratization process to flourish, women rights to thrive and the economic prosperity to boom. Germany enjoys full-scale leverage in the entire region and beyond, because Germany stationed the second largest troops in Afghanistan, the country is one of the main initiator of the NATO Resolute Support Mission for Afghanistan and it is one of the top 10 contributors to the reconstruction process and humanitarian assistance in the country.

Germany has very good diplomatic relations with almost all of the surrounding countries of Afghanistan; it has influence on all of the gulf countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE, which are supposed to be the major patrons of Taliban.

In addition, Germany leads the EU commission and it is the number one economy in Europe and number 4 economy in the world. If it will put in 2% of its GDP to the NATO annual budget, Germany would be the second leverage enjoyer within NATO following the United States of America. So Counter Narco-terrorism Alliance Germany (cnt-alliance) express the need for the initiation of the third Bonn conference, which should include all opponents to be brought to the negotiation table, in order to form a framework of lasting peace, continuation of the political process, stability, Good and lean governance, economic prosperity, revival of democratic norms and revamping of human and women rights as well as confidence building amongst regional countries.   

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South Asia

Popularity-Graph of PM Imran Khan has not dropped down

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Although the economy of Pakistan has deteriorated, price hike, increase in utility bills, food prices and consumer prices of daily used items has grown up, the job market has deteriorated. According to a survey, mostly people are complaining about price-hike and the unavailability of jobs. Some people are complaining about the bad practice of nepotism and especially targeting “hired electable and technocrats”. It is a fact that the PTI government has failed to meet the expectations of its voters. PTI workers and supporters have been cornered and ignored.

What so ever the government is presenting economic parameters, to defend themselves. What so ever reasons or logic and explanation are provided by the Government to defend themselves? How much blame is put on previous governments, but the failure of the PTI government cannot be justified. The common man in Pakistan is a victim and suffering.

Yet, the popularity of Prime Minister Imran Khan has not deteriorated. According to a small scale survey, the public will vote for Imran Khan in the next general election. As per Survey, no one was willing to accept Maulana Fazl-u-Rehman, leader of JUI-F, as prime Minister of Pakistan. The popularity of PPP and PML-N has also deteriorated sharply.

Strange! It is really very strange, while people are complaining about the performance of PTI Government, but still, praise PM Imran Khan. Some people blame his team, while other analyses as the nature of issues inherited by the previous government are so complex that no one can manage quickly. It might take more time to reach any conclusion and favors that the PTI government should complete its term of 5 years and wait till 2023, for the general election.

Pakistan is a democratic country and the constitution of Pakistan protects the right of every citizen to protest, express his/her opinion, criticize the government and its policies, can organize any procession, demonstration or Dahrna – sit-in.  “Azadi March” is permissible in our system and legal, and the government has not offered any resistance in it. The government will not disturb them as long as they stay within the law and peaceful.

Such agitations are part of the Pakistani political system and has a long history. Whenever some of the political parties lose in the election, they blame the winner party or ruling party for rigging and asks them to resign and dissolve assemblies. Even the currently ruling party PTI has been protesting the Government in 2014 and so on. But history has witnessed, no Prime Minister one prime Minister resigned or assemblies dissolved in past as a result of opposition pressure. It is expected, that this time also the PM will not resign, and not dissolve the assemblies.

However, the opposition always gains millage and concessions through negotiations and deals. This time is also no exception and it is guessed that some way out will be explored soon.

But there is a lesson for PM, to pay more attention to the issues of the common man in Pakistan. He has to give due importance to PTI workers and supporters. He must respect the merit and create opportunities for qualified people.

There are 1.5 million fresh graduates every year entering the job market, but the creation of jobs is not in accordance with it. As a result, youth are desperate and unfortunately may involve in negative activities. It is worth mentioning that the biggest vote bank and political force for PM Imran Khan were “Youth”. Pakistan’s demography consists of 70% of youth under the age of 40.

It is suggested that PM may take serious notice of the ground situation. Realize the problems of the common man in Pakistan. May initiate major structural changes and deep reforms in all dimensions.

Pakistan possesses huge potential for growth if enabling environments are provided and right policies are implemented, there is no reason that Pakistan’s economy take-off rapidly.

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South Asia

Pakistan,a Victim of Vicious Circle: The Container Politics

Asad Ullah

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It’s pretty tough to comprehend Pakistan’s politics or the behavior of Pakistan’s political leaders. The example of Pakistan’s political system and politicians can be tacit with Robert Jervis’s astounding words. “When you pick up one piece of this planet, you find that one way or another, it’s attached to everything else-if you jiggle over here, something is going to wiggle over there… We need this sense of the continuing interconnectedness of the system as part of the common knowledge so that politicians feel it and believe it, and so that voters feel it and believe it, and so that kids feel it and believe it so that they’ll grow up with an ethic.”

Since 1947 Pakistan is trapped in a vicious circle, and it’s hard to get rid of this wicked circle with the current political system. Immense tension with neighbor countries, internal political instability, high inflation rate, massive unemployment, poverty, discrimination, corruption, human rights violation, economic problem, low level of domestic and foreign direct investment, energy shortage, wrecked infrastructure, weak and self-centered political leader ruined the country. Now we are witnessing a massive number of lessening faiths on the institutions of almost all kinds. People don’t trust the government; they don’t believe any corporation and virtually no political leader — the reasons why people’s trust is declining in government. The govern leaders do not fulfill their promises, they always raise different slogans spreading fake news to convince the voters for votes, but things are not still the same after elections; all the obligations remain broken. Thus, people certainly don’t believe politicians.

After 71 years of a bumpy hard and tough journey, the people of Pakistan in 2018 elected a new prime minister with much new hope, to fight against corruption and other serious challenges. This hope was up to the greatest extent achieved when the supreme court of Pakistan took action against the corrupt leaders and imprisoned them. With such enormous weight, the oppositions are now vindicating a mean to get rid of the present administration; the adversaries have started a long march called Azadi-March, with the aim to takeover Khan’s (Imran Khan Niazi current Prime minister of Pakistan) government. The majority of the people are against the so-called Azadi-March, as they are aware of situations. To sidetrack Imran Khan’s consideration, these opposition leaders have started Azadi-March, where thousands of protestors are marching to the capital city Islamabad, calling on prime minister Khan over the weak and fragile economy and corruption.

Some religious groups organized the Azadi-March and political rivals, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) party prearranged the protests, almost all parties have used the march to show their complaints throughout what they call the Azadi March (or Freedom March).The main aim of the Azadi-March, calling Imran Khan to resign, they believe that the current government ruined to satisfy their promises, and the administration is amateurish, inexpert, and doesn’t distinguish how the state-run. While addressing the people, Fazal said all Pakistani, from Karachi to Islamabad, want that prime minister Imran Khan should resign, further stated that prime minister still has time to deferentially submit his resignation because the Pakistani will not give him also time to do so.

The purpose behind such Azadi-March isn’t only that they want to overthrow the prime minister, but they want him to stop disparaging the adversaries. The opponents, according to most of the local people, are corrupt and crooked, and they are responsible for the country’s weak institution and corruption. Since now, Khan is taking legal actions against the oppositions with the support of millions of Pakistani people, thus permit the opponents formed a coalition to stand against Khan. With the help of millions of people Khan isn’t against their Azadi-March, but it’s something everyone knows, the country is going through tough time, skirmishes with India and recently with Afghanistan, ongoing economic reforms, working to encourage tourists and foreign direct investment, and many other developmental projects, such actions or the so-called Azadi-March will ruin the hope of the current administration and people. The immediate adverse consequence of the Azadi-March is also on the recent Kashmir issue. Currently, the prime minister and his administration are working to find a solution for IOK,by voicing on a different medium, such domestic scuffle will not only hamper the objective but will instead encourage the neighbor states to take advantage of domestic unrest.

The time being Khan is dealing with massive problems, the oppositions should stand with Khan, instead of creating other domestic violence and discontent. The continues Azadi-March will do nothing more than internal turbulence and other dangerous predicaments that will hit the country with more severe difficulties. Democracy means the government of the people, by the people, for the people, which specify that the people of Pakistan elect the current government. Pakistan is a democratic country where people can choose any leader they trust. To make it more vibrant, Pakistan is not the legacy of some elites to govern all the time.

A country with more than 200 million people ought to decide their future; they should stand with Khan and support his campaign of fighting against corruption and corrupt people to bring peace, political stability, economic development, and employment opportunities. Fora very long time, we have experienced different government and their fake promises; they have tumble-down the state’s institutions, nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism, all were the hidden agendas of the previous government. Thus, it is clear that the present government is fighting against all the above problems.

Finally, let us begin anew — recalling the current Azadi-March, which is not a sign of being active or reliable, but rather a sign of weakness. Sincerity is always subject to proof, and when you don’t have a single proof, you are lucky enough to have needles in your chopsticks. Let us never negotiate with these political leaders who are involved in the march out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

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