Understanding Food Insecurity Experiences, Dietary Perceptions and Practices in the Households Facing Hunger and Malnutrition in Rajanpur District, Punjab Pakistan


  • Farooq Ahmed
  • Muhammad Shahid


Household Food Insecurity is the underlying cause of hunger and maternal-child undernutrition. This study aims to understand household experiences, practices, and perceptions regarding food insecurity and dietary diversity at the community level in one of the most underdeveloped districts, Rajanpur, in South-Punjab. This study majorly used ethnographic research methods for data collection, supplemented by a food insecurity survey. The study attempted to investigate households' inability to access food and to analyze poor mothers' perspectives and practices regarding daily diet, healthy and unsafe foods, along with variety and diversity of diet. Data found that immediate and the most conspicuous problem was the limited diversity of food. Overall, the low income of poor households determined the low quality of the diet. The foods unavailable or scarce in the households were perceived as healthy foods. Data revealed lowincome households had to eat monotonous, old, used, expired and rotten foods. Poor rural households had to sell off their highly energetic food items (honey, chicken, milk, purified butter, and eggs) only because they wanted to earn a little amount of money, which makes poor rural mothers and children food insecure. Besides, local markets also sell out low-quality foods. The most serious issue was inflation, which squeezes the poor's buying capacity. Data analysis revealed that micronutrient deficiencies in mothers and children (hidden hunger) resulted owing to the consumption of less diverse food. The analysis informs that although there was no absolute hunger in the community, limited diet diversity or lack of access to fruit, meat and milk were the real barriers for poor households because of high inflation. Recommendations include reducing inequalities, enhancing household income, controlling food prices, and promoting a culture of diverse food instead of commercialization is highly recommended to alleviate hunger and malnutrition at the micro-level.