Livelihood support urged for coastal communities hit by climate change
KARACHI: Speakers at a programme held on Thursday called upon the government to introduce livelihood support models, especially in the highly vulnerable coastal areas, to help communities adapt to changing climate.
It was also strongly recommended that the government allocate funds for districts yearly to tackle climate change that, the speakers pointed out, was a potential threat to development and poverty reduction efforts.
The experts were sharing their views and experiences at the closing ceremony of a five-year project titled ‘Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan (CCAP)’ held in a local hotel.
Funded by the European Commission, the project was jointly implemented by the World Wide Fund of Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) and Lead-Pakistan in Sindh (Thatta and Badin districts) and Balochistan (Gwadar district).
Highlighting the threats posed by climate change, Arif Ahmed Khan, representing the ministry of climate change, said that though the public in the country might not have an understanding of this global challenge, climate change was a real threat and had brought nations together.
In this context, he referred to the recently held United Nations conference on climate change in Paris and said that representatives of 195 countries discussed the same issue that had attracted experts’ attention today.
“The next 25 to 30 years are very crucial in terms of adverse impacts of climate change and there is an immediate need to pursue adaptation practices at the community level proactively,” he said.
Citing data from his study, senior manager of the CCAP project Ali Dehlavi said the predicted a 0.5 degree centigrade increase in temperature in the next 25 years might lead to an eight to 10 per cent yearly per acre yield loss across all crops of Sindh and Punjab, resulting in Rs30,000 per acre yearly loss to each farm household.
He underlined the need for using the study’s findings in adaptation strategies to prioritise actions.
General manger Lead-Pakistan, partner NGO in CCAP, Tahir Rasheed said that climate change was a potential threat to development and poverty reduction efforts in Pakistan.
“Climate change impacts are complex and require coordination among all the government departments. The provincial governments need to allocate sufficient funds at the district level to tackle climate change,” he said.
He advocated a strong communication strategy to sensitise and create awareness among various stakeholders and local communities about climate change.
Deputy director of the Sindh fisheries department Mohammad Aslam Ansari said that coastal communities were being directly affected by the changing environmental conditions.
“These communities are highly exposed to tidal flooding, cyclones, droughts and, subsequently, loss of livelihood resources,” he said, adding that the reduction in freshwater downstream Kotri had greatly affected environmental conditions in the Indus delta.
The situation was damaging not only for agriculture but also for the fisheries sector and there was an immediate need to release at least 10 MAF water downstream Kotri to rehabilitate the ecosystem.
Chief meteorologist Mohammad Akram Anjum said Pakistan had had floods for five consecutive years, which should be seen as a warning sign, besides a sea level rise of 6mm per year was under way due to an increase in temperature.
Community representative from Jiwani Ghani Asif told the audience about the havoc sea erosion wrecked on his town and said the erosion was not only ruining their land but also damaging their livelihood resources, particularly fisheries.
Dr Ejaz Ahmed, Rab Nawaz, Mohammad Moazzam Khan, all representing the WWF-P, and Nasir Panhwar of the Indus Forum also spoke.