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Friday, 6 January 2017

Understanding agri-food value chains for nutrition

by Nigel Poole, Haris Gazdar and Mar Maestre

Photo credit: Flickr/ADB

Undernutrition is a central and persistent challenge for global development, above all in South Asia. Mobilising agri-food businesses to support efforts to reduce undernutrition is challenging. The LANSA (Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia) team has been researching for the past two years how the markets for food can be improved so that substantive and sustained consumption of nutrient-dense foods by the poor in households that are post-farm-gate is achieved. Here, nutrient rich foods are those that, if consumed in adequate quantities (WASH and health conditions not considered) are likely to improve the nutritional status of individuals who are undernourished in terms of micronutrients. We understand agri-food value chains as the initiatives, either donor, government or business driven that we will be analysing.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Ending poverty – drama or whimper?

by Haris Gazdar

Incidence of multidimensional poverty in Pakistan, 2014-2015
Photo Credit: UNDP, Pakistan

The first sustainable development goal (SDG1) is dramatic: “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030. Is it even a logical possibility? Have learned economic philosophers not pondered over the relative nature of poverty – which means that no matter how well off everyone is, some will be poorer, and poverty is about those who are poorer. Perhaps because the “ending poverty” wish is so fantastic it has been helpfully broken down into more tractable targets: ensure that no one lives on less than $1.25 a day. This idea owes its origins to a debate about global poverty lines – or levels of income below which a person is considered to be poor. And if the $1.25 a day target seems too rigid then there is the more achievable goal to “reduce by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.” This gives quite a lot of leeway to national governments to come up with their own definitions of poverty reduction and then to try and achieve them.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Today's Lyari

by Natasha Ansari and Ebad Pasha

Photo credit: Dr. Nida Kirmani

Often in mainstream discourses on Karachi, the alleged “most dangerous city in the world,” Lyari continues to be routinely framed as the most dangerous address within Karachi.[1] Though it is undisputed that the “gang-war era” certainly wreaked havoc on the lives of Lyari’s residents in overt and covert ways, and the post-conflict trauma thereafter is an active remnant of those times. Nevertheless, through our recent fieldwork for the UNDP-Youth Employment Project, it is evident that persisting perceptions of it being a notoriously volatile place due to gang violence are not helpful. Not only is this oversimplification arguably no longer a lived reality for most of Lyari’s residents post-operation—it moreover reductively masks and betrays a more complex relationship with the structural nature of violence, and can therefore be a harmful generalization, if not a misguided one. We attempt to tackle some tropes and misconceptions regarding violence in Lyari’s current context in terms of unemployment, Rangers’ “security” framework and gender based on some initial findings from our research.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Violence and tolerance

by Haris Gazdar

Non-violence, sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reutersward
Photo credit: Flickr/Georgio Galeotti

Targeted violence against Shia Muslims came home to me recently. I was catching up with a close relative (let’s call him Zain) who has himself been a victim of such violence a few years ago. He was shot and injured, but thankfully recovered. We were at a family gathering and I urged him to take another helping of food when he said that he needed to watch his diet because he had “restricted his mobility” and was not getting enough exercise. It turned out that there had been a spate of shootings culminating in the attack on a majlis at a home in the North Nazimabad locality of Karachi, and many of those incidents directly affected his social circles. Zain felt that he needed to be cautious. The almost normal way in which we spoke about these threats was, on reflection, shocking. Perhaps, being a survivor, had made him stoical and stronger.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Do we give back?

by Amna Akhtar

What can we give back? Respondents at  the field site in Dadu
Photo credit: Collective team

‘Tell me what’s wrong with my baby. There are no health services in these areas. Help us.’ Conversations and pleas such as these are not uncommon for researchers to hear. Every time we step into the field in rural, low income areas of the country, we are met with countless appeals from our respondents to do something. To act. To intervene. But as researchers, that is the one thing we are trained not to do. As observers of an issue or community our task is to objectively gather information, interact with locals and gather insights. We cannot ‘help’ people or provide goods or services. The only thing we may give at times is compensation for the time people spent with us and consequently lost out in their wages and earnings.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Mind your language

by Hussain Bux Mallah

Using language for politics is not new.
A WWII poster discouraging the use of 'enemy' language
Photo credit: Wikipedia/Una Storia Segreta

There has been an increasing recognition of the role of language in learning and children’s intellectual development. Research has shown that children whose primary language is different to the language of instruction in school are more likely to drop out or fail in early grades. Studies have also shown that children’s first language is the optimal language for literacy and learning throughout primary school. In Pakistan, where retention rates are abysmal and students in the public education system perform poorly (data from NEMIS reports a literacy rate of 58% and class five retention rate of 69%), it is important to reflect on the role of language as one of the key drivers of learning outcomes.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Plugging the gaps between farm and fork

by Samar Zuberi and Rashid Mehmood

Increased production does not mean improved diets for the undernourished
Photo credit: Flickr/Asian Development Bank

Nutrition has been an increasing concern in Pakistan for almost half a decade. The release of the 2011 National Nutrition Survey showed no improvement in nutrition indicators in decades, and highlighted alarming rates of undernutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies. These results alongside a strong international push to re-focus on nutrition have succeeded in placing nutrition higher on the policy agenda within Pakistan. Pakistan has recently adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were proceeded by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). SDG #2 aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.