Friday, 30 October 2015

Quality Measures

by Sidra Mazhar

Photo Credit: Collective for Social Science Research 

Stunting and wasting, which measure respectively, height-for-age and weight-for-height shortfalls among children are well-established indicators of nutritional status of a population. These statistics, part of a branch of measurement known as anthropometrics (literally, the measurement of people), are widely used to reflect on progress and direct policies. We know, for example, that the rates of stunting and wasting in Pakistan are recognized as being above UNICEF’s emergency threshold levels. While there have been many debates about what these statistics signify and how they might improve, how we actually arrive at the numbers is often taken for granted.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Can social protection programmes lead to greater economic agency for women in agriculture?

by Amna Akhtar

Photo credit: Magnus Wolfe-Murra/DFID/Flickr

Even though women in rural areas in Pakistan take part in a wide range of agricultural activities, the work they do, often arduous and labor-intensive, is not recognized as their individual contribution to the household economy. There exist strong gendered norms around the kinds of work that can be considered paid work for women in agriculture and except for some - such as cotton harvesting and livestock rearing-income from most kinds of work are attributed to the household as a whole. This, we found, while researching linkages between women's work in agriculture and the nutrition outcomes. This is important because we found a clear connection between the recognition or even acknowledgement of women’s economic contribution and their ability to make pro-nutrition consumption decisions. Interestingly, income from the national cash transfer programme (Benazir Income Support Programme or BISP) whose beneficiaries are women in poor households was seen across the board as the woman’s own. If the design of social protection programmes can enhance the visibility of women as autonomous economic agents they may even lead to greater recognition of women’s work in agriculture. This is one of the questions we hope to address in our research on mitigating the negative and leveraging the positive impacts of women’s agricultural work on nutrition.

This blog originally appeared on LANSA

Monday, 5 October 2015

Making value chains work for little children

by Samar Zuberi

Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Scanned from 1000 Fragen an die Natur, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1948.

In Pakistan, 44 per cent of children under the age of five are stunted while 15 per cent are wasted and 32 per cent are underweight (NNS, 2011). These statistics indicate that malnutrition is a serious problem in Pakistan - according to World Health Organisation classifications Pakistan falls in the ‘very high’ range for severity of malnutrition for all three figures. The occurrence of micronutrient deficiency is also alarmingly high with half of the population of children under 5 suffering from anaemia and vitamin A deficiency, while 39 per cent are deficient in zinc (NNS, 2011).

Despite the high proportion of the population that is involved in agriculture (45 per cent of the workforce) many rely on the market to purchase their food. Seventy-seven per cent of households are net buyers of wheat, the main food staple in the country. Good nutrition, however, is not just about having enough bread to fill your belly. It is about having a varied and nutritious diet with adequate levels of protein and micronutrients. And for nutritious foods the reliance on markets is even greater than it is for the main staples, in urban and rural areas alike. Understanding how markets can work better to deliver nutritious foods to the poor and undernourished, therefore, can help to improve diets and in turn nutrition.