Danger of famine: Balochistan faces drought threat, says environmentalist

The summers passed without a heavy spell of rain in northern Balochistan

Shezad Baloch December 08, 2014


The summers passed without a heavy spell of rain in northern Balochistan leaving the arid mountain region high and dry facing a fresh spell of drought and threatening food security for the local populace.

The looming drought is exacerbating the poverty of the province, an environmentalist told The Express Tribune

“There have been no rains this summer in Killa Abdullah, Killa Saifullah, Pishin, Chagai, Ziarat, Khuzdar, Loralai, Zhob, Musa Khail, Barkhan, Kohlu, Naushki and adjoining areas,” observed Faiz Kakar, manager of the Balochistan chapter of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Drought is frequently hitting the province which is 44 per cent of the Pakistan in terms of landmass. According to IUCN, prior to 2010, average annual rainfall was 250 millimetres, but now, it suddenly spikes at times, or there is no rain at all. “There were light showers, but no downpour for the past seven months in most of Balochistan,” Kakar said.

The province witnessed prolonged drought from 1997 to 2003, and the government has done nothing to overcome the crisis. Even after a decade, people are suffering from the effects of the six-year dry spell.

As for the current dry spell, Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch had announced merely one billion rupees for the drought-stricken districts.

The government had also constituted two committees comprising provincial ministers Sarfraz Bugti and Ubaidullah Babat to visit the drought hit areas and ensure that the allocated funds were spent transparently. The committee has yet to submit its report and reveal what they have done so far for the drought-hit areas.

However, the environmentalists say the amount is too small for the drought relief, but the government is helpless against nature, and the most important thing is that there should be rain during the next month otherwise Balochistan’s poverty rate will rise further.

The international donors have not been approached to seek help for the drought hit people. “We should not make things controversial, first we need to see what we can do ourselves for our suffering people,” CM Baloch said when asked whether the government is planning to solicit donor help.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2014.


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