Seeing the Unseen: Breaking the Logjam of Undernutrition in Pakistan
After a lost decade, there is clearly a groundswell of momentum for nutrition in Pakistan, driven by a confluence of policy, evidence and events. This momentum needs to be sustained at the national level, reinforced at the provincial and sub-provincial levels, and converted into action.
The articles in this IDS Bulletin highlight some of the key features of undernutrition in Pakistan and its drivers. The correlates of undernutrition in Pakistan are no different than any other country: infection, poor diet quantity and quality, and unequal gender relations. High levels of poverty and fragility make the context for undernutrition reduction more difficult.Yet, the articles here also show that government nutrition interventions can work. But if the log jam of malnutrition in Pakistan is to be broken for good, malnutrition will have to be viewed as a development outcome – one that is a foundation for other outcomes such as economic growth and social cohesion – and this will only be achieved by viewing nutrition through a political-economy lens.
The collection of 12 articles in this issue represents a contribution to the potential moment of change. They do three things: (1) describe the nutrition status and its correlates and causes, (2) assess some of the interventions employed to combat undernutrition, and (3) analyse the political context within which these interventions emerged and will have to operate in the future. They aim to give additional definition to the debate of what it is desirable and possible to do to accelerate undernutrition reduction in Pakistan and why it is essential to do so.