As threat of climate change looms, experts decry ‘woefully insufficient’ planning by authorities
Given that Pakistan ranks among the top ten countries most vulnerable to climate change, the current provincial budgetary allocations made for environmental upkeep in Sindh – a province most at risk – are woefully insufficient.
This point of concern was raised by speakers at the launch of a ‘Climate Public Expenditure Review’ organised on Monday by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and Oxfam under its ‘GROW’ campaign.
The speakers, who included lawmakers and environmentalists, presented a budgetary analysis of Sindh’s 2016-17 allocations with particular reference to climate change adaptation.
Aneela Bibi, the lead researcher, informed the audience that of the 2,773 projects finalised in the development budget, only 941 schemes were related to climate change management.
Similarly, of the total budget estimate of Rs200 billion only Rs11.663 billion was dedicated for climate change projects; a mere six percent.
“This six percent allocation is all the more worrying when one sees that almost 15 percent of Sindh’s GDP has been affected by climate change alone,” said Bibi.
Environmental expert Nasir Panhwar said it was undeniable that agriculture remains one of the main pillars of Pakistan’s economy and a key livelihood source for rural communities.
“We must attach utmost importance to efforts aimed at addressing the issues being faced by small farmers. To this end, solar and wind energy can prove invaluable for development projects based on greater participation by rural communities,” said Panhwar.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Chairperson Muhammad Ali Shah spoke of the impact of climate change on small farmers, particularly women who he identified as the worst hit by its effects.
Shah said the ‘Local Adaptation Plan of Action’ needed to be adopted by the government at the earliest, stating that it was designed particularly to help vulnerable communities cope with the challenges of climate change.
Government officials, academia and local community members in attendance participated wholeheartedly in the discussions and endorsed the findings of the study. The participants were unanimous while calling for urgent policy measures to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people facing extreme vulnerability to climate change and its effects.
Shafi Muhammad Jamot, a legislator elected from a coastal part of the city, agreed that Sindh was more prone to climate change due to its geographical location.
However, he said, the Sindh government had already announced plans to establish a new department to handle coastal development and environment and climate change related issues. This move, the lawmaker asserted, proved that the provincial authorities were duly concerned over climate change management and was thinking ahead.
Jamot acknowledged that Oxfam’s GROW campaign had been instrumental in bringing to the fore the voices of small growers and women farmers. He also assured the participants that efforts would be made for the early adaptation of local plans for protecting mangroves, controlling marine pollution and overall better management.
Others who spoke at the event were Sindh Environmental Protection Agency DG Naeem Mughal; KU assistant professor Dr Aamir Alamgeer; Chief Mangroves Conservator Riaz Wagan; Additional Secretary, Agriculture, Dr Badar Shaikh; Additional Secretary, Food, Dr Maula Bux Jakhro; Oxfam International’s Mustafa Talpur; Oxfam representatives Zeeshan Ahmed, Asim Saqlain; and PFF team members Mustafa Mirani, Jamil Junejo and Afzal Shaikh.