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Environmental degradation

Updated Mar 20, 2017 08:23am

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One of the major causes of poverty in the country is environmental degradation. It reduces natural resources such as air, water, and soil; destroys ecosystems and habitat; leads to deforestation and wildlife extinction and increases pollution.

The livelihood of many poor people is associated with ecosystems. If it continues to deplete where then will those people go?

The depleting of natural resources has no doubt resulted in unprecedented rains, cyclones, flooding, earthquakes, drought and other such climatic

changes that hamper the country’s economic progress. This pattern has been observed since the last two to three decades.


The livelihood of many poor people is associated with ecosystems. If it continues to deplete where then will those people go?


Extreme weather conditions such as floods and heavy rains were witnessed in 1992, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015. Besides the 1999 cyclone, the 2005 earthquake, and an ongoing drought-like situation in Thar has not only significantly affected socio-economic conditions but also damaged infrastructure at a large scale.

The effect of environmental degradation on the economy is assuming critical proportions while the government’s response does not measure up to the enormous challenge.

Hence our farm economy is encountering huge losses.

Forested areas are declining, wetlands are being polluted due to waste water disposal, grasslands and pastures are reducing and agricultural lands are decaying due to increased water-logging; while birds and plants face extinction. The fish stock in the wetlands is also depleting while communities that used to depend on fishing are migrating to semi-urban settlements.

Land degradation, erosion and super-flooding mostly hurt the poor and marginalised communities.

According to the joint findings of the Word Bank’s 2015 study, in collaboration with a local authority, there has been a 3-4pc loss on the federal budget due to floods and heavy rains.

The annual economic impact of flooding is estimated between $1.2bn and $1.8bn— between 0.5pc and 0.8pc of national GDP.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index (2017) by German Watch, Pakistan is at number 7 on the global climate risk list. Risks globally have been analysed between 1996 and 2015. Furthermore, the report says that Pakistan has faced 133 natural disasters, with 0.647pc loss in GDP — a total loss of $3,823.17m.

Awareness at the grassroots level needs to be provided to help people understand the importance of environmental degradation while being simultaneously empowered to tackle the problem.

The writer is a research officer working with Indus Consortium.

Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, March 20th, 2017

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Comments (2) Closed



Alba Mar 20, 2017 09:29am

"Awareness at the grassroots level needs to be provided to help people understand the importance of environmental degradation while being simultaneously empowered to tackle the problem." _ The phrase at the grass roots level is very amusing in this context. Farmers are working at the grassroots level ! They would be the first to know that if their soil has turned yellow, an indication that the soil has been exhausted of nutrients.

aly Ercelan Mar 20, 2017 02:49pm

why include floods? they are the best thing for the soil across the country and specially to the delta where floods deposit silt to reduce sea water infiltration into fields and to reduce mangrove losses. flooding has become necessary because of the diversions created by dams and barrages.