High food prices, drought and reduced income due to COVID-19 are driving food insecurity in nine districts of Sindh
Sindh is marked with a high prevalence of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. In 2021, the food security situation further deteriorated because of high food and fuel prices, drought, and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 2.3 million people (23 percent of the rural population analysed) are estimated to be in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and Phase 4 (Emergency) in the current period (October 2021-March 2022), corresponding to the planting/lean season. These include around 1.7 million people (17 percent of the rural population) in IPC Phase 3 and around 0.63 million people (6 percent of the rural population) in IPC Phase 4 across the nine districts analysed. All districts have at least 5 percent of their population in IPC Phase 4, and except for Badin and Dadu, the other seven districts have between 20-30 percent of their populations in IPC Phase 3 or 4. Urgent action is therefore required to protect livelihoods and reduce food consumption gaps of people in Crisis and Emergency phases of acute food insecurity. Out of the nine analysed districts, seven districts, namely Jamshoro, Mirpur Khas, Sanghar, Sujawal, Tharparakar, Thatta and Umerkot are classified in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis), whereas Badin and Dadu are classified in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed).
The analysis of the projection period (April-June 2022), corresponding to the harvest season of winter crops and sowing season of summer crops, indicates that the number of people in Crisis and Emergency phases is expected to reduce slightly to 2.2 million from 2.23 million (22 percent of the rural population). The area phase classification of all nine analysed districts remain unchanged; seven districts are classified in IPC Phase 3, while two districts are classified in IPC Phase 2, as in the current period.
The analyzed districts experienced multiple shocks that include drought and an increase in food and fuel prices associated with COVID-19 impacts, which resulted in poor food security outcomes for the current period. Although a slight improvement in the food security situation in the projection period is anticipated, due to the fact that this coincides with the harvest/planting season, when food stocks and livelihood opportunities are likely to improve slightly, food access will remain challenging because of continuously increasing food commodity prices throughout the year.