KARACHI: Twenty three Dehs out of 41 in Kharo Chhan, a coastal area of Thatta district in Sindh, has been intruded by the sea due to climate change. Being closer to the sea, Kharo Chhan has in fact been affected by all climatic changes happening over the sea. Sea level rise is quite evident as the sea has inundated thousands of acres of coastal land and 117,823 acres of land has been affected by salt-water intrusion.
“Local community confirmed impacts of climate change on soil texture; land use; biodiversity, forests, agriculture, fishing, livelihoods, local economy, energy resources, health and drinking water,” said Ghous Bux Pirzado, Program Officer, Environment and Livelihood, Shirkat Gah in an interview to PPI on Monday.
He said the changing weathers coupled with land and environmental degradation have seized most of the agricultural activity, forestry, and livestock and have had seriously affected the fishing activity. The intensifying heat and highly variable annual rainfall has also been impacting local agriculture and fishing sector besides flora and fauna of the area.
Ghous said incidents of climatic disasters such as floods and cyclones have increased overtime and hence, the uncertainty and threat to life of the local community has also been intensified. “Climate change has reduced income levels of the local community. Three decades ago there was more prosperity in the area due to plenty of fishing and agriculture. Out-migration, especially among fishing communities, has also been recorded who migrated due to economic pressures.”
Due to alarming rate of soil salinity and degradation, the energy resources are constantly limiting. Due to rise in fuel prices and declining economic conditions, the local community has now abandoned use of kerosene oil and they use battery cell charged LED emergency lights for the purpose of lighting homes.
He said strict regulatory measures be taken to knob the ongoing anti-environment illegal acts in coastal areas i.e. commercial logging of mangrove forests. “Government should exist and serve people in Kharo Chhan and should address fundamental and macro level issues pertaining to management of Indus delta ecosystem including delivery of regular freshwater; irrigation and drainage; access to assets; and mainstreaming of the communities residing in the coastal area.
“Climate resilient infrastructure must be built along with coast i.e. infrastructure related to roads network, irrigation, forest restoration, building bunds, jetties on creeks, water filtration plants and energy sources,” he said.
He said district government should work on community-based disaster risk management measures and mechanisms and provide early warning system besides formulating a policy and ensuring institutional support to rescue local agriculture from the clutch of climatic adversities.
He said government should make efforts to take the climate and adaptation related information to the farming communities, particularly to the women farmers. Instead of corporate fishing, contracts should be given to local fishermen for their encouragement and to ensure sustained and environment friendly fishing.
“CBOs should prioritize work with the farming and fishing communities, and facilitate cultivation of new crops and help farmers reclaim water logged and saline soils. Women farmers, with little training and support, can adapt their vegetable production systems that can tolerate climatic adversities and produce more. Local Community members, in view of future projections of weather patterns and climatic disasters, must learn climatic changes in terms of their modes of livelihood and to be prepared for sustainable adaptations to climate change,” he said.
He said: “Climate challenge is huge and the local community have to be united for collective actions and show solidarity with each other to deal with this great challenge. Incidents of flooding have increased. Instead of reaping benefits of flood, Kharo Chhan has recently faced destruction of land and shelter and degradation of agriculture during floods in 2010 and 2011.”
Kharo Chhan is a place of katcha homes; huts made of wood, chitai and dry straw. There is hardly any pakka or cemented home or building. It has population about 29,000 living in about 200 villages; there is no any urban area, he informed.
“Kharo Chhan does not have any government office except few schools and a single BHU. Only one village has yet got electricity but on the whole there is no electricity throughout the Kharo Chhan Taluka. It even does not have any police station; there is no any policeman throughout Kharo Chan,” Ghous further informed.