Food Security of Aged Populations in Drought Affected Tharparkar, Pakistan

By: Irfan Ahmed Khan  

A lower-than-average rainfall over the last three years resulted in a drought situation in District Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan. Literature reviews reveal no significant research on food insecurity of old persons in Tharparkar. For this study, qualitative research was carried out to analyze the food security situation of the aged population in this marginalized desert area. Face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with aged persons and food managers of Tharparkar, selected through purposive sampling. After proper consent and ethical considerations, ten community participants aged above 60 years - both men and women in four villages and three public and private sector food managers were interviewed. Results indicate that old persons have a preference for local food, but due to the prevailing drought, they were not able to cultivate their land and yield crops. They were generally not getting enough food and the majority suffered from hunger. Food aid provided by the government to enlisted families was insufficient and poorly distributed. A separate respite was not provided for the more vulnerable -including aged persons. The main themes that emerged are (i) food insecurity exists for all including the aged population (ii) There's higher incidence of food insecurity with hunger in the aged. The study recommends that the government provide timely food aid on an equitable basis and on updated census figures. A review is required in ‘District Disaster Management Plan of Tharparkar’ to include separate benefits for the elderly. An early warning of drought and water preserving techniques should be introduced in the area.

Public Policy and Public Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Irfan Ahmed Khan

Senior General Manager, Public Health, Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS), Pakistan
Sindh, Pakistan

A gerontologist, public health expert, and physician, Dr. Irfan has multilevel experience with the government and civil society organizations. He works as a Senior General Manager in a renowned NGO of Pakistan that that has access to more than 22.4 million population in 20,274 villages in 47 districts of Pakistan. Before joining Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS), he has served in the Federal Government of Pakistan, acquiring a rich experience as a doctor, public health expert, and medical administration. Dr Irfan is an alumnus of the University of Southampton (England, UK) from where he acquired his second Master's Degree in Social Sciences (Gerontology) on a British Commonwealth Scholarship.