Drought in Balochistan is not a new phenomenon as drought has an old history in the most impoverished province of Pakistan. Balochistan had experienced a long drought in 1945 that had remained till 1955.
A decade long drought had critically afflicted masses, agriculture and livestock. In 2003 Balochistan had faced another devastating drought that remained intact by 1997, created famine like situation in most part of the province.
|A view of drought hit area in Chagai District|
Balochistan experiences drought spell after every 39 months that terribly affect people, livestock and increase difficulties for government to cope with serious situation with meager resources. The main reasons behind drought in Balochistan are dearth of precipitation, poor irrigation and fast depilation of ground water.
|Trees, pastures and bushes have withered due to drought in Balochistan|
“Balochistan receives quite low rainfall which is less than entire country,” Deputy Meteorologist Balochistan told Balochi Zind, adding that water table is dropping rapidly in Quetta and other parts of the province as water is being incessantly pumped from under 1000ft for irrigation as well as drinking purposes.
|Water in channels alarmingly depleted due to drought|
“If this situation is not controlled immediately, many areas in the province will be converted into deserts. Water and soil play an important role in balancing earth, because when earthquakes occur they cover up vacuum, while water table in Quetta has dropped to an alarming level, god forbid if more than 5 magnitude of earthquake occurs, Quetta and other parts of Balochistan would immerse with ground,” cautioned Deputy Meteorologist. He said that a proper mechanism is inevitable to utilize water along with taking prompt steps for recharging ground water.
|Gharib Shah, a resident of Chagai showing a water Well which has dried up due to drought|
Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has declared high alert in 14 districts of Balochistan out of 34, in which Chagai, Nushki, Kharan, Washuk, Punjgour, Jhal Magsi, Kachhi, Musa Khel, Barkan, Jaffarabad, Qila Abdullah, Harnai, Sibi and. Zhob.
|An old man Faqir Badar telling about difficulties caused by drought in Chagai|
580869 people who make approximately 50,000 families, living in 24 tehsils, 68 union councils and 1099 villages have been affected due to drought.
PDMA on the demand of concerned district administrations has dispatched relief items for 82981 people and comprising of 21000 families. PDMA is alert to meet any natural disaster, keeping in view the present situation of Balochistan essential commodities are being supplied to district administrations in accordance with their demands.
Drought is a disaster that causes slowly and gradually, and it takes time to overcome drought and for this a consolidated plan is indispensable. Along with agriculture, livestock is an important sector in Balochistan with which a large number of people are affiliated to earn their livelihood.
|Chief Conservator Taj Muhammad speaking about forests hit by drought|
People in Balochistan breed goats, sheep, cow and camel. According to the census of 2006 the number of goats and sheep in Balochistan were 505088 and more than 25254 goats and sheep were affected due to drought. Currently, more than 5502319 goats and sheep are being affected due to prevailing drought in Balochistan.
|Notables of Chagai informing about issues of their areas as Chagai district is passing through a severe drought|
“Cattle are an important part of economy of Balochistan but unfortunately this sector is not being given due focus,” said Dr,Ghulam Jaffar, Director General Livestock Balochistan. He said that unfortunately, if you have a piece of land, banks would offer you loan but if you have 1000 goats and sheep you could not get loan from banks. “Tangible steps are needed in this connection so that the cattle breeders can easily get loans and utilize them for the development of cattle farming that will help boost economy of Balochistan either,” he added. DG Livestock said besides livestock, agriculture is an important sector and large number of people are associated with it to make both hands meet. “Drought has severely affected this sector, as a number of fruit orchards have dried up inflicting enormous loss to farmers of Balochistan,” he added.
According to reports of Agriculture department over 70 per cent people in Balochistan are directly or indirectly attached with agriculture which is the mainstay of economy of the province. They said owing to ongoing drought over 54040 acres cultivable lands have been affected. –
Forests play a vital role in maintenance of climate, provide us wood which is used for different domestic needs besides they are the sanctuary for various wild animals. It is normal experience that wherever thick forests are located those areas receive more precipitation.
Unfortunately, forests in Balochistan are under degradation and they are almost died out in the province owing to fast deforestation. Besides other many reasons, lack of forests is one of the main reasons that Balochistan receives less rain. However, now the trend is changing as people are getting awareness about the importance of forests, and the tendency of tree plantation is increasing.
Talking to Balochi Zind,Chief Conservator of Forests Balochistan Taj Muhammad said that there was poverty in the province as people had no other choice but to chop off forests to burn stove of kitchen and for other domestic needs. “Climate change is showing its impacts upon every living thing, and the looming drought is causing deforestation,” he said, adding that under Balochistan million tree plantation campaign thousands of tree plants were being planted in different districts, including that of Washuk, Kharan, Chagai and Nushki. “Keeping in view the climatic condition of the province such kind of trees ought to be planted that also provide feeder for animals.
Abdul Shakoor, a social worker and resident of District Chagai told Balochi Zind that throughout Balochistan particularly Chagai and its all union councils were severely hit by drought. “Main source of income of people in rural areas of Chagai is farming and cattle breeding sadly both sectors have been badly affected,” he lamented.
|A renowned social worker of Chagai Mr. Abdul Shakoor|
Official sources say, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has distributed relief items worth Rs 600 millions, and has demanded Rs 2 billion more funds from Government. “If 600 million worth items were properly distributed amongst drought affectees then every affectee would have surely gotten relief, but it seems the relief goods were not distributed appropriately,” they claimed.
Abdul Shakoor said that there was huge population of Afghan refugees in Chagai which was also creating problems for the people as resources were insufficient to meet the demands.
Gharib Shah, resident of Union Council Balanush told Balochi Zind that drought had compelled them to migrate to other areas since government machinery could not reach to provide relief goods to them. “Even water table has dropped deeply further multiplying our miseries, and we are still waiting perhaps government may send food and edibles,” he added.
Chagai is the largest district of Balochistan in terms of area-wise spreading 44797 square kilometer and its population is 226008 which has severely affected owing to ongoing drought.
|Assist Commissioner Chagai, Habib Nasir informing about relief activities initiated by govt. for drought affectees|
Talking to Balochi Zind Assistant Commissioner Chagai, Habib Nasir said that PDMA had dispatched different relief items for drought affectees which had been distributed amongst affectees of different union councils, including Amri, Birapcha, Ziarat, Balanush, Chgay and Padag. “Sugar, pulses, flour, tents and other commodities were distributed among drought hit families,” he said, adding the process of distribution of relief items was underway and we have demanded more ration from PDMA because Chagai was largest district of entire Pakistan where a large number of cattle was also present. He said that the number of sheep in Chagai was 83547, goats 103435, camels 28977 and 219305 other animals. “We have also requested PDMA for early provision of silage and fodder because a large number of people associated with livestock to earn their bread and butter. “Water table has depleted to an alarming level however, local administration with other department is making all out efforts to rehabilitate drought affectees and provide them relief”, he added.
|PDMA workers loading relief goods for drought affectee|
Contributed by: Muhammad Ishaq (Reporter)