KARACHI: Sindh is lurking on the verge of ‘severe drought’ as lack of rainfalls and irrigation unavailability have caused adverse water shortages, a disaster management agency warns, prognosticating an adverse impact on vegetation across the province that contributes 23 percent to the national value-added agriculture.
The National Disaster Management Authority, the lead federal agency, warranted an immediate and ‘proactive’ action to cope up with the drought situation in Sindh and parts of Balochistan, “which may get severe in the coming days due to prolonged dry spell predicted in many parts of the country”.
“It is feared that prolonged dry spell may cause water stress in the cultivated lands/areas of the country due to limited supply of irrigation water for kharif crops and may also aggravate the existing drought like conditions,” the authority said in a report.
Sindh accounts for 18 percent of the country’s land area and 16 percent of the total cropped area. Livestock and fisheries are allied sectors of agriculture in the province contributing about 56 percent of value addition in agriculture and nearly 11 percent to GDP.
Cotton is the key summer cash crop. Other kharif crops include sugarcane, rice and maize.
The province supplies 35 to 40 percent of the nation’s cotton production.
The NDMA prepared the report on drought like situation in Sindh, containing short- and long-term recommendations and measures on the directives of President of Pakistan Arif Alvi.
The report has also been shared with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Sindh and other concerned stakeholders for necessary action.
“NDMA has coordinated with Nadra (National Database Registration Authority) in providing family data to PDMA Sindh/Relief Department, Sindh enabling them to distribute assistance packages among affected families in calamity hit areas,” an official statement said.
“It also sought suggestions from PDMA Sindh if any additional relief assistance was required from federal government/NDMA.”
The Recovery and Rehabilitation Directorate of NDMA acts as ‘Drought Secretariat’ to ensure timely, coordinated and smooth flow of information between all stakeholders to alleviate the hardships/miseries of affected people.
Analysts said tail-end swathes, also known as catchment areas, are facing slowdown in water flows on the mighty Indus River, which are adversely affecting the livelihoods of farmers already living on subsistence.
They usually sow vegetables and rear livestock to earn their bread and butter.
The analysts said falling fresh water is forcing them to migrate to urban centres of Karachi and Hyderabad.
Analysts also fear further worsening of situation if water storages are made on the river as it is likely to completely halt the inflows.
Availability of irrigation is already on the downward trend,
posing a biting challenge to economic growth in which the agriculture sector contributes around 20 percent.
“Irrigation water availability dropped two percent and 19 percent in kharif and rabi seasons, respectively. Growers resorted to groundwater pumping, especially in rain-fed areas where the issue of water availability worsened,” the central bank said in annual report.
Last month, NDMA, in collaboration with PDMA Sindh, and the United Nations bodies, conducted a one day seminar to analyse the current drought like situation in eight districts particularly the Tharparkar.
The issue of adverse impacts of drought on the livelihood and resultant migration were also discussed. The impacts of drought on health and state of nutrition of
pregnant/lactating women and causes of child mortality were also discussed.
NDMA has also planned a national consultative seminar in the second week of December in Islamabad to discuss intensity and extent of drought situation nationwide.