UN World Food Programme

Pakistan: 8 Hunger Facts

Pakistan already suffered high levels of malnutrition and food insecurity before the flooding began. Copyright: WFP/Marco Frattini

The monsoon floods in August hit a country already grappling with high levels of malnutrition, high food prices and a humanitarian crisis along its border with Afghanistan. Here are eight facts that show the full extent of hunger and poverty in Pakistan.

1. 20 million affected by the floods
The Pakistan floods this summer impacted the lives and livelihoods of some 20 million people, around 10 million of whom required emergency food assistance.

2. Nearly one in two Pakistanis at risk
Pakistan suffered from widespread hunger even before the monsoon floods, with an estimated 82.6 million people – a little less than half the population – estimated to be food insecure.

3. Widespread poverty
An estimated 36 percent of Pakistanis live below the poverty line and almost half are illiterate. Poorer households typically spend over 60 percent of their income on food.

4. Poor sanitation
50 percent of all Pakistanis have little or no access to clean toilets and drinking water, a condition that renders them vulnerable to infectious diseases.

5. Child mortality
The biggest killers of children under five in Pakistan are diarrhea and acute respiratory infections. Undernourishment is an underlying cause in 38 percent of those cases.

6. Violent conflict 
Conflict along Pakistan’s northwestern border with Afghanistan has forced millions of people to flee their homes. Since 2008, WFP has provided over 2.6 million of them with food assistance.

7. Rising hunger
Volatile food prices over the past seven years have pushed the number of people who depend on food assistance in Pakistan from 38 percent of the population in 2003 to 49 percent in 2009.

8. Wheat dependent
Wheat is Pakistan’s main staple crop and most important source of calories. As a result of the flooding, which submerged around 16 percent of all arable land in Pakistan, the upcoming wheat harvest is expected to be around 15 percent smaller than usual.