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This paper focuses on identifying South Asia’s progress in food security in the last quarter century; constraints that prevented the region from achieving the targets established; and opportunities for realizing sustainable food security during the post-2015 era.

The rest of the paper is organised as follows. Section 2 reviews South Asia’s achievements in food security since holding the 1992 World Food Summit. Section 3 analyses the causes of food insecurity. Section 4 discusses national food security policies, strategies and programmes, along with the common themes that may best be approached from a regional perspective. Section 5 identifies opportunities for realizing food security in the post-2015 development agenda.

South Asia has made tremendous progress toward alleviating hunger and food insecurity during the last quarter century. Notwithstanding this impressive progress, the rate of decline of chronic undernourishment is too low to completely eliminate chronic undernourishment even by 2050. This paper reviews South Asia’s progress, challenges and opportunities for realizing sustainable food security in the post-2015 development agenda. The review finds that South Asia’s average dietary energy supply is inadequate to reduce the Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) to 5% level, which can be considered as the lowest attainable level for a country. The current level of undernourishment in each country is determined by a diverse set of factors including related to domestic supply and how food is utilised.

These differences appear to have been well recognized in national food and nutrition security policies, but the extent to which these policies have yielded desired results is not clear. Much more effort at evaluating their efforts is needed. There is a strong case for much greater effort at the regional level for coordinating policy responses given the trans-boundary implications of food production systems, distribution and trade with huge implications for food security. The region can do much more to improve agricultural productivity and production, enhance agricultural R&D, disseminate and share knowledge; managing agro-ecological zones including large river-basin systems; managing food security risks and vulnerability; and share knowledge on implementing safety nets.There is greater scope for better coordinating national and regional efforts on food security within the post-2015 development agenda in alignment with the Zero Hunger Challenge. The current practice of using the rate of PoU as the basis for food security planning limits the scope of such efforts to chronically undernourished people. The post-2015 development agenda needs to cover all forms of malnutrition, both undernourishment and overweight, and their underlying sources including food requirements to meet different physical activity levels and transitory food insecurity, all within a framework of sustainable development and structural transformation in agriculture. Food security planning processes need to be inclusive and must be informed by local knowledge, community
aspirations, and feasible dispute settlement mechanisms.

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