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October 13, 2020

Food on the table

Editorial

 
October 13, 2020

The World Food Programme, one of the biggest humanitarian programmes in the world, has won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020. This is a suitable honour for a programme that has for decades provided food aid to 690 million hungry people around the world. It is no doubt disturbing that while so much food is wasted around the world, and many countries have surplus amounts, people still go hungry everywhere on the globe. Climate change, conflict and now the Covid-19 pandemic have made things even worse for these persons. The award therefore appears to be a notably suitable one in these times.

The World Food Programme was founded in 1961 by the UN and it is active in 80 countries today and provides a variety of aid based on the need of that country, including ‘cash for food’ programmes, and direct supplies of food, especially for children and women, who are usually particularly deprived. The WFP has also pointed out, while accepting the award, that it has worked with governments and many of the partners to make its success possible. Its services are enormous. They are often overlooked, including in our country, where the group at one point faced some harassment in certain areas with the accusations that it was promoting the idea that people in Pakistan go hungry as a kind of propaganda against the country. The reality is that, while Pakistan has a surplus amount of wheat for most years since 2018, there has been a growth in hunger, because people do not have the cash to access this food. As a result, 18 percent of children under the age of five are severely malnourished, and 40 percent suffer stunting or an inability to reach the expected height for their age. Other children suffer wasting or an inability to reach expected weight for their age. The problem is an enormous one.

During the earthquake of 2008 in Azad Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the WFP played a primary role in leading relief efforts and saving people from literal starvation. Its efforts deserved to be credited, so do its millions of workers who operate all over the world. The Nobel Prize has gone to a truly worthy organization this year. We hope that the prize also draws the world’s attention to hunger and the need to address this most basic requirement of humans, no matter where they live and what they do.