The Thar region is once again in the news for the drought and starvation that are taking their toll on the inhabitants.
Though its geography and harsh climate make this arid corner of Sindh more vulnerable to disaster than other regions of the province, the absence of timely state intervention has aggravated the situation.
As reported, a drought-like situation is persisting in Thar as the area has hardly seen any rainfall during the monsoon season, which is nearing its end.
Difficult climatic conditions have added to the people’s woes as a number of suicides — many said to be triggered by poverty related to the drought — have been reported.
What is equally worrisome is that there is not enough fodder for livestock.
For Thar’s desert dwellers, livestock is an essential part of their existence and can mean the difference between life and death.
And while Tharis do migrate to other parts of Sindh to find seasonal work, reports indicate that some families are leaving their native areas permanently.
Drought-like conditions were also experienced earlier this year, with a number of children reportedly dying from malnutrition.
Though there was some controversy over the exact number of deaths, this time locals say that unless steps are taken, the effects of the drought may be even more severe.
Also Read: Thar drought situation termed alarming
A similar lack of water and fodder has been reported from parts of Jamshoro and Dadu districts.
The Sindh government has said it is taking steps to address the situation in the affected areas, and is providing wheat to the population.
While the provision of food and water will temporarily stave off starvation, a plan needs to be put in place to save the area’s livestock as well.
Hence supplying fodder to the people’s animals must also be a priority.
And as drought is not uncommon in Thar, for the long term policies need to be framed so that the people and livestock in the area are protected from the devastating effects of natural disasters.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2014