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Famine in Tharparkar: an SOS

September 01, 2012

THE Sindh chief minister declared Tharparkar as calamity-hit district, where except for some initial drizzle it hardly rained in the current monsoon and resulted in famine-like conditions. As a result, the local population started moving towards barrage area districts in search of food and fodder along with their livestock.

Out of 166 dehs in the district only nine are located in the command area of a barrage, while the rest of the 157 dehs are in the desert where people mostly depend on rains to feed their livestock and food.

This year’s situation is worse than the previous droughts of 1968, 1979, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2007.

The August 2011 rains completely destroyed mud-houses, killed livestock and damaged crops. That is why Thari people could not store food and fodder in proper quantity.

The drought-like conditions have also lowered the underground water level. Almost all water reservoirs have completely dried up, making people lives more challenging.

According to official sources, 500,000 to 600,000 people have left the area due to shortage of water and food. They have moved to barrage areas in search of food and fodder for their animals. This would definitely impact a lot on barrage areas as they are calamity-hit since the last year’s floods and still struggling to come out of the crisis.

The children are also suffering because of lack of education facilities as enrolment/attendance has dropped as families are migrating towards barrage areas.

Tharparkar is hit by drought after every two or three years, which increases malnutrition, poverty, disease and mortality rate of humans and livestock. Owing to food shortages, including animal products in drought times, the malnourishment increases, particularly in children. Pregnant women are particularly affected due to shortage of food.

Many diseases such as viruses and upper respiratory tract infection are affecting humans as well as animals and birds.

I request the government to set up relief activities to provide food, water, health and nutrition and livestock services.