After the devastating floods that hit the country this monsoon season, Pakistan now houses more than 3.4 million hungry children. Earlier, the country was already facing the problem of malnutrition and stunted growth due to the excessive number of people living below and on the poverty line. After the floods, thousands of families have been pushed below the poverty line as they have lost all sources of income. On the Global Hunger Index, Pakistan ranks 92nd out of 116 countries as of 2021. This year’s data after the floods will show an even gloomier picture.
According to “Save the Children,” a development organization that works for humanitarian and development programs with a focus on the needs and rights of children, more than 76,000 children in flood-affected areas are currently experiencing severe food shortages and risking severe malnutrition. This problem will only exacerbate in the incoming winters. The floods have left 8.62 million people hungry. This is almost four percent of the total population. Although it may not seem like a lot in numbers and in relative comparison, this is a lot of people and a lot of children.
With hunger levels rising, people are being forced into using their children as objects, as many reports have emerged where people have had to sell one or two of their children for a meager amount of money so that they can fill the bellies of all others left at home. The most vulnerable are girl children who are forced to be married off. These children will not have a bright future and are likely to suffer a great deal in the coming days, as women already do not have many of their due rights. People have also resorted to selling whatever was left with them after the floods, and many have sent their children out to beg on the streets. In addition to that, people have sent their children, as young as 5, to work knowing that their employers will not treat them properly.
Although relief efforts are being carried out by humanitarian agencies and the military, they will never be enough. Foreign countries are also sending in hefty amounts in aid packages. However, considering the earlier behavior of many institutions, it is unlikely that the whole or even the greater part of the whole amount will be spent on the purpose for which it is being sent. Other than that, the country lacks proper planning, which will make it highly difficult for organizations to provide all the affected people with food.
Pakistan is currently in a crisis situation as its young population is suffering greatly. With hunger, malnutrition, no education, and being forced into marriage or begging, the children have no future at all. Not only will they suffer individually, but the country as a whole will suffer as the burden on the government will increase. There is a dire need for the implementation of upliftment plans so that all these people are able to find some sort of work that can allow them to have at least one meal per day. The government should work extra hard to keep this process transparent and free of any corruption so that the benefits reach those who truly deserve and need them.