Empowering Lives: UNDP's Food Security Initiative for People Living with HIV in Pakistan

April 4, 2024

Millions in Pakistan struggle to secure basic necessities, with people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) facing even steeper challenges. Recognizing this critical need, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has taken a significant step forward. Since 2021, UNDP has been actively collaborating with the Association of Persons Living with HIV (APLHIV), with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.  Their collaborative effort includes a vital food package program specifically designed to empower PLHIV in Pakistan by tackling food insecurity head-on.

The rationale behind UNDP's food distribution program is clear:  for HIV positive individuals, maintaining adequate nutrition is critical to support adherence and tolerance to the lifesaving HIV treatment medication – antiretrovirals. Further, food insecurity can increase the progression of AIDS-related illnesses, reduce the capacity of HIV positive individuals to work and contribute to family and community security. In Pakistan, access to regular, nutritious food remains a significant challenge for people living with HIV due to various socio-economic factors. 

UNDP's food distribution process involves providing four packages annually – one for each quarter of the year. These food packages are curated carefully, containing essential components necessary for a balanced diet such as flour, rice, milk, pulses, and cooking oil. As part of our quality assurance procedures, all items included in the food package undergo thorough lab testing to ensure their quality prior to dispatch.  As of 2024, UNDP has distributed more than 18,000 food packages to PLHIV across all four provinces of Pakistan, in addition to the federal level. Distribution is as follows: Balochistan: 538 packs, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) 3,249 packs, Punjab: 3,868 packs, Sindh: 8,932 packs and Federal: 1,422 packs. 

These food packages serve as more than just a source of nutrition; they also bring a sense of solidarity and support. Ms. Ruqaiya, a beneficiary from Islamabad, expressed, “It’s not just a food package, it’s a package of hope and happiness for us.” 

UNDPs commitment to providing food assistance underscores its dedication to addressing the multifaceted needs of PL HIV in Pakistan.

Amid ongoing challenges, including the socio-economic repercussions, UNDP remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting PLHIV in Pakistan. Through strategic partnerships, innovative interventions, and a holistic approach to development, UNDP continues to make meaningful strides towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no one behind. As UNDP's food distribution efforts continue and its commitment to strengthening HIV prevention and response persists, UNDP is not only saving lives but also building a more resilient and inclusive society for all.