Over 40 per cent of children under five are stunted in Pakistan, and the proportion is increasing

A worker plucking green chillies from vegetable fields
Photo credit: World Bank/ Flickr


Devastating floods in 2010 and 2011 exacerbated and highlighted the poor nutritional status of affected populations. Four in ten children under five are stunted, 15% are wasted, and 32% percent are underweight (National Nutrition Survey 2011). Nutrition is recognised as a multi-faceted issue and so to try and address the growing burden of undernutrition, international actors have facilitated the move towards multi-sectoral provincial nutrition strategies. These strategies have begun to look outside conventional nutrition sectors (such as health) into sectors such as agriculture and social protection as contributors to nutrition improvement. It is yet to be seen whether and to what extent the proposed strategies translate into effective policy and programme implementation. What is clear, however, is that there is now greater scope than before for evidence-based ideas on leveraging agriculture for nutrition.

There has been an opening in Pakistan, in the recent years, for policy action on nutrition. Constitutional reforms which transferred many powers from the centre to the provincial level of government opened up the opportunity for policy-making on nutrition at the level of government which controls the provision of public goods and services most pertinent to nutrition (for example access to food, water, sanitation and health services). Currently each of the provinces has passed or is working to pass an inter-sectoral nutrition strategy which proposes that the health, water sanitation and hygiene, agriculture, education, women’s development and social protection departments and sectors implement interventions and programmes which work to reduce undernutrition in the province.

Traditionally, government policy in agriculture has focused on increasing crop yields, maintaining food price stability and improving the distribution network of food crops, but with the provincial intersectoral nutrition strategies, agriculture has for the first time a formalized role to play in helping reduce undernutrition. This provides an opportunity to reframe agriculture policy with respect to linkages and disconnects between agriculture-nutrition.


Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) is a programme of research which aims to generate evidence that, with practical application, can improve nutrition outcomes in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The research under LANSA will explore the fundamental, underlying and immediate determinants of nutrition.


The majority of the research in Pakistan is led by the Collective for Social Science Research (CSSR). Through LANSA agriculture and nutrition landscaping activities, six priority areas were identified with respect to strengthening agriculture’s linkages to nutrition in Pakistan. Women’s work in agriculture; access to land; institutional/organisational effectiveness; social protection; fortification and opportunities for input at the provincial level. 

Read LANSA's approach to Influencing Target Policy and Practice in Pakistan.

South Asia Focus

Funded by UK DFID

This research has been funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies



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