HYDERABAD: Environment experts and civil society leaders on Monday called for taking result-oriented steps to counter climate changes in Pakistan that is causing frequent floods, extreme heatwave and drought.
They were speaking at a seminar titled “Gender and Social Vulnerability to Climate Change: A Study of Disasters Prone Areas in Sindh” organised by the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC) and Society for Environmental Actions, Reconstruction and Humanitarian Response (SEARCH) in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) at a local hotel.
SPDC principal economist Nadeem Ahmed said climate change had been affecting rich and poor people equally. “It is slackness that we do not take climate as threat and that is why we are suffering from it.”
He suggested: “We should prepare to tackle possible floods, cyclones and other disasters, but we should not wait for them.” Climate change in rural Sindh had left implications on crops, affecting income of people, he said.
Hyderabad division commissioner Asif Hyder said: “It is unfortunate that we are facing calamities of climate change. Floods, which used to come after a long time, are now hitting the country almost annually. Heatwave and cold leave severe impacts on weak people having low nutrition.”
He said Pakistan had low employment rate. “Drainage system is a big issue of Hyderabad; Rs3 million are needed to revamp drainage system of Hyderabad, but the question is who will give this huge amount of money,” he said.
Solid waste was being thrown in drains of Hyderabad which caused overflowing of gutters. There was need to ban polythene bags. Forest cover in the country had been declining. He stressed the need to plant more trees to reduce the impact of climate change.
“Women need financial support to reduce their gender and social vulnerability. There is need to empower women through innovative programmes like the Benazir Income Support Programme,” he said.
SEARCH executive director Waheed Jamali said frequent floods and droughts had badly affected Pakistan’s agriculture sector. The government should adopt comprehensive policies to save agriculture from the effects of climate change, he suggested.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative Mumtaz Mangi said climate change was one of the biggest environmental disasters which was hitting Pakistan. Farm sector of Sindh was severely affected by the climate change because it caused floods.
Dr Islamuddin Majeedano of the Institute of Agriculture Research said that rise in melting of glaciers in Pakistan was causing floods while droughts were occurring due to global warming.
“There is a need to boost gender equality in our society. Politicians are only making policies, but they are not practically involved,” UN Women’s Representative Asim Abro said.
He said there was a need to train women for saving them from natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. He said series of floods had hit the country hard, but the work to tackle it was not efficient. “The government works only during floods, though flood relief work was required the whole year.”
Environment expert Nasir Panhwar said climate change was a big environment issue facing Pakistan, but it was matter of great concern that some people of different schools of thought were treating it as non-issue.
“Thatta’s land is being eroded by sea, but it is not being inundated by sea rise. There is need to tackle this issue.
Provincial Disaster Management Authority’s response to disasters in districts is not up to the mark as deputy commissioners are tasked to handle them for which they are not trained,” he said.
Sindh Porhiyat Council president Punhal Sario said the SPDC had conducted successful and useful research on climate change implications on four districts of Sindh — Badin, Dadu, Thatta, and Tharparkar. “This study should be used to resolve climate change issues affecting these districts,” he added.
Farzana Buriro of the Indus Research Centre and Hyderabad Press Club’s president Jai Parkash also spoke on the occasion.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2015