Undertakings for sustainable development

Published on: 27/11/2018 | Comments: No comments 

.. by A.M.Khan

The climatic change for few years we see in our areas, in the country and around the world is hurtling and it happened to be faster than what scientists had predicted some years back.

This year?s summer was dry and extremely hot in Pakistan and May?s highest temperature was recorded in Turbat. The climate change in highlands areas was also impactful. In the month of Mid-October and November, this year, rainfalls in some parts of Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan first time recorded autumn floods, of minor level,? for which elders of the areas arguably don?t find instances, however, snowfall in these months has been common till near past.

IPPC and Living Planet report by World Wide Fund reveals wildlife population decline by more than half in less than 50 years. This report also features human as specie and its survival in this planet?? Anatole Lieven in his book had featured climate change first and most important problem of Pakistan in 2011, it?s now one amongst seven countries of the world most affected from climate change. Since agriculture contributes 18.9 to GDP, and employment to 45.1 percent population of the country both employability and food production may hit by it. CPEC?a game changer, has its long term plan lays focus on agriculture in terms of boosting yields, reducing losses from both harvest and transportation; making livestocks and dairy products more productive but the stress of climate change exactly ticking on this point in the country.

The PTI chief Imran Khan, now Prime Minister of Pakistan, at a rally had included environment in his 11 point agenda, and promised to plant 10b trees across the country. This year plantation drive started across country, earlier in KP province, is a positive step lauded widely in the country. Some experts have, however, questioned planting of thirsty trees-eucalyptus and conocarpus, in water stressed areas. This initiative, however, may add to existing thin forest cover, and help creating awareness about the importance of forests to our environment.

District Chitral, particularly lower Chitral, has had a wide cover of natural vegetation of coniferous? plants grown mostly in highlands, have excessively been cut down for fuelwood and construction purpose. It is, before merger of State of Chitral with Pakistan, by now being chopped down for fuelwood, other purposes, and said to be smuggled. Excessively axing Oak trees?have a very slow growth level; according to a report around 50thousand tons a year for fuelwood should trigger local and governmental conscience to protect natural vegetation from extinction. Providing alternative affordable source(s) of energy, particularly LPG plants?were under consideration of previous federal government, may reduce this deforestation.

The semi-arid and arid bound Pakistan to face rising temperature, its impact on agricultural production, fruit production; and increasing vulnerabilities of floods in the highlands areas? northern areas and Chitral. It is not only drought hit fruit and crop productions in Chitral, past few years also attest this constant fall in production level. The dry conditions, according to a report of Met, caused water stress in agriculture areas of the country this year. It was not very surprising in the month of August, after a long spell of dryness; a flash flood washed Osiak Drosh in lower Chitral which made 27 families homeless. Those areas in Chitral which had limited water supply system(s)?yearly-snow-fed-glacial-water, have experienced water stress for crops and drinking.

This year not only the people of Mori-Lasht and Mulkhow Warijun?sought media attention, but the whole mulkhow, Torkhow, some parts of Tehsil Mastuj, Lotkuh and Lower Chitral deficient of water resources, prematurely harvested crops, collected fruits and other agro-based productions. What seemingly probable in Chitral has turned out to be likely when crops and fruit produce? infected and diseased coupled with low yields, may be lowering nutritious content, has resulted when temperature crossed its optimum temperature range in the area, and water requirements to hit the maturity level of both crops and fruits remained unmet. It is yet to discover, in highlands areas, how concentration of carbon dioxide has reduced the protein and nitrogen levels of some crops, fruits nutritious levels, and contents in animal provender.

Since water scarcity increased in Chitral for crops and drinking, interestingly, a drive started to naming River Kabul as River Chitral, rather to press provincial government and civil society organizations finding ways and means to lift river water for crops and drinking in the areas. The possibility of lifting water, by solar-or-electricity-powered system, in most low-lying areas of upper and lower Chitral can easily be done. Originating from Chiantar Glacier, River Chitral, one of the major tributary on north-west flows into Afghanistan at village Arandu, contributes 10 to 12 percent of the flows of Indus water system benefits around 20m people, but the people of Chitral have not yet been able to get minimum benefit from it. Pakistan and Afghanistan both as co-riparian also predicted to be facing the adverse impact of climate change-induced large scale calamities from this river.

Since climate-driven vulnerabilities are high and risky for the areas and those people who depend on small-scale farming has resulted to overly using available resources. It also prompts impactful dynamics which affect crop and fruit production in the area. Working on improving water supply system and frugal exploiting available resources of the area has become a matter of necessity in the area for sustainable development.

?.. The writer is M.Phil Research Scholar in the University of Peshawar

Chitral needs more Investment for sustainable development

Published on: 16/06/2018 | Comments: 2 comments 

.. by Shah Karez

Pakistan is endowed with the largest collection of high mountains in its North. Three of the most important mountain ranges of the world, Himalayas, Karakurams and Hindukush meet here. These mountain ranges are the water towers of Pakistan and repository of biodiversity. In addition to meeting the water needs of the country, these precious resources are providing sustenance for the communities living on these mountains and their fringes.
Chitral is one of these highly mountainous regions nestled between the Hindukush and Hindu Raj ranges. Spread over 14850 km2, Chitral boasts of maintaining 40 peaks over 6100 m. and over 30 odd valleys.

These peaks play critical role in providing vital services to the communities in the form of fresh water, clean air, and habitat for biodiversity, source of food, energy, minerals, flora and fauna. The snow melt in the form of Chitral River, its tributaries and Springs provide source of fresh water for drinking, for irrigation, and has the potential to generate over 3000 megawatt hydro power. The arid climate makes it an ideal habitat for a variety of plants and animals.
Like other mountain regions in the world, Chitral Mountains also contain high-risk environments. Avalanches, landslides, earthquakes and glacial lake outburst floods threaten life, while fragile soils make these areas vulnerable to environmental degradation. Seismically, Chitral has been declared as Red Zone, prone to severe earthquake.
The occurrence of disasters is on the rise. Extreme weather conditions have been observed during the past almost two decades in Chitral. Snowfall and rains have become untimely and unregulated. Frequency and severity of the disaster events are exacerbating livelihood risks, poverty, food insecurity and health problems.

Flash floods devastated Yarkhunlasht village in 2001, in 2005 floods of the same nature occurred in Brep village, and in 2007 Sonoghur village was destroyed by glacial floods. Buni town was the next victim of the same kind in 2010 together with Reshun village. In June/July, 2015 as much as 45 villages were affected by rains and floods, including the villages named above which were repeatedly hit.

Picture credit Shafiq Iqbal, 2015

The floods also washed away part of Chitral -Buni road at Kuragh resulting in food and energy crisis and water scarcity in upper Chitral. Garamchashma road was washed away from Shoghor down to Roondur and the valleys of Murdan and Zhitur were badly flooded. The essential commodities in Garamchashma bazar exhausted creating severe crisis. Confronted with a do or die situation the people were forced to work for several days on opening of the road to enable edibles reach there. Several bridges across the district were washed away further increasing the vulnerability of the people to cope with the situation.
To add to miseries an earthquake followed in October 2015 destroying over 18000 dwelling houses and animal sheds. Such events push the affected communities further down the ladder of economic, social and psychological poverty.
What is worse, it takes years for the communities to forget the miseries and recover from the shocks.

Brep after 2015 floods photo credit Shafiq Iqbal

Flood season has come again, floods have started even before the Moon soon rains. On 10 June, 2018 the picturesque Bumburet valley was flooded. Wheat and Maize crops and fruit orchards were destroyed. One can imagine the woe these events inflict on the affected population.

Bumburet floods 10 June, 18 – destroyed crops/orchards-Picture credit Chitraltimes.com

Way forward:
Experts attribute most of these floods to climate change and resulting Glacial Lake Outburst phenomenon.
This might be true but the havoc played by these floods has to stop. Natural Resources such as Glaciers and Rivers call for protection and conservation. There should be an end to further denudation of the forest. The rangeland and pastures must be safe from overgrazing and trampling of livestock and poachers. The Forest and Wild Life conservation and promotion should take priority on the government agenda. Minimizing the disaster risks is the call of the day for immediate attention. Agriculture in all its dimensions needs promotion and investment. The potential for business and employment have to be exploited. Education and Health sectors need further investment. Gender friendly and women empowerment activities need further attention. Building codes need to be applied to protect maximum lives in the event of earthquake. Without building a credible internal road network we will lose the benefits of the CPEC projects from reaching the poor.
It is issues such as these that need special attention of the national, provincial and district authorities, political leaders and civil society at large.
The investments made by the NGOs such as Aga Khan Development Network, Sarhad Rural Support Program and others for sustainable development in Chitral is appreciable. It is because of the work of these NGOs that Chitral boasts of having strong social capital. The Public sector has to be more serious in building strong partnerships with the private sector to attain the dream of a prosperous Chitral living in harmony with nature. .. Shah Karez, Chitral,16 Jun 2018