Sindh is in need of innovative measures to deal with its climate issues
akistan is the sixth most populous country in the world with a population in excess of 2 percent of the total world population. According to German Watch’s Global Climate Risk Index-2020, Pakistan ranks among top 10 in the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change.
According to the report, Pakistan lost 9,989 lives, incurred economic losses of $3.8 billion and experienced 152 extreme weather events from 1999 to 2018. Based on this data, the think tank concluded that Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change.
In the early 1990s, Pakistan was predicted to face huge threats of global warming and climate change for years to come. Due to rapid population growth, deforestation and anthropogenic activities, the issue of climate change in Pakistan, especially the Sindh, is getting worse by the year. Women and girls are facing the consequences of climate change.
The wide-ranging and multi-sectoral impact of climate change affects people and natural resources across the country. The hottest city in the world currently is Jacobabad, whose temperature reached 49.4 degrees in June 2022. In October 2022, parts of the city are under flood water, after 49 days of rains.
In 2018, more than 35 deaths were recorded in a single night due to lightning strikes in Tharparkar. Due to climate change, livestock mortality is on the rise in desert areas of Umerkot, Tharparkar and Sanghar. The residents of these areas face livelihood and food security issues. Historically, Thar has seen severe droughts between the years 1856 and 1896.
These droughts were followed by famine and are known in the history as Chappno and Channo. In 1986-87, Thar was again hit by a severe drought. The other drought years were 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. Persistent climate change brings new threats and risks that will slow economic growth and reduce agricultural and livestock production. Climate change will disproportionately affect rural populations.
Women and girls of Umarkot dream of greener societies with better environment as climate change directly affects their lives. This year the heavy rains wreaked havoc but only a few months ago there was a heat wave and the day-time temperature in shade went up to 46 degrees Celsius.
In Sindh, climate change has had a drastic impact on agriculture, food security, health and livelihoods. Most human activities are contributing to changing the environment. The people of Sindh are worried about the changing pattern. Sometimes there is heavy rain and sometimes there is a year in which not even a drop of rain falls.
The people are not fully aware of climate change and its wide-ranging impact. They are unable to understand what they should do in the worst-case scenario. The recent flood has affected them greatly and nearly 10 million people have been displaced.
For the first time in Umarkot, teachers and students are performing together on the same platform provided by the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO). They have come up with many innovative strategies to deal with climate risks. Women and girls in Umarkot are transforming their lives for a better environment after getting trainings and enhancing technical and leadership skills to overcome climate change and its impact from the SPO. The adolescent girls in the self-help group create drawings and sketches about their dreams to sensitise people about their condition.
Lata Kumari, an active climate ambassador from Umarkot, says, “When I wake up early in the morning and see the tulsi (a sacred plant) with my eyes and water it, my mind is at peace because it takes all the sorrows out of the house and brings comfort to the house.” She is contributing to the society by preparing audio messages and sending them to various groups and uploading them on social media. They are focusing on religious myths and taking care of old trees in their compound.
One way of dealing with climate issues is by engaging active girls and women. They own the community and spread the message. They are also the most vulnerable to the risk of climate change. In rural areas, many women are engaged in agriculture sector. We just need to increase their capacity to perform in their areas.
Bhoomika, another young girl, and her 40 colleagues from Umerkot, produced a drawing to illustrate how climate change is affecting human lives. The drawing shows the difference between two distinct phases. In one there is a healthy environment with fresh air. Then global warming strikes and the situation worsens. The second picture depicts the damage. The girls used innovative ideas to reach out to people and to learn and adopt more eco-friendly activities to choose the best practices. This group of young girls is working hard and creating innovative ways for sensitisation and realisation.
Another group of climate ambassadors from Umerkot, led by Gaitry Gunwaty Rai, created a sketch and made two sides of a road to symbolise the journey of climate change. In the sketch, a boy is seen watching the process on both sides. On one side, there are trees in the distance and the weather is pleasant. On the other side, there are no trees. Instead, one sees a number of brick kilns.
Another drawing shows two sides of the climate story. A boy is seen cutting a tree. On the other side a boy is seen watering a tree. This gives a clear message about how deforestation harms the Earth. On the other hand, if we save our trees, we can create a better environment. The group has launched many campaigns on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram advocating environment friendly activities and interventions.
There is an urgent need to integrate these initiatives for joint climate action. Provincial authorities need to think at ground level and have smart plans focusing on desertification and deforestation. Faith actors, climate ambassadors and youth activists need to be engaged consistently. Local resource conservation and climate adaptation and environmental justice can build and strengthen women’s capacities to address the known impacts of climate change at an early stage to enable people to survive in their environment and protect their sources of livelihood. Climate adaptation measures that empower adolescent girls and women to play an active role and be included in governance structures can help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 13 (appropriate climate action).
The writer has more than 12 years of experience in the development sector. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org