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Budgetary allocations insufficient to tackle climate change

Budgetary allocations by the federal and provincial governments during the past three years to tackle climate change threat had minuscule shares in the total development spending, said experts.

Speakers, at a ceremony organised by Oxfam and Indus Consortium under GROW Campaign, said only 0.15 percent of the public sector development programme (PSDP) of 2015-16 was spent on the interventions to control climate change.

They said the Punjab has shown some progress in this regard, but keeping in view the potential massive adverse effect of climate change, even the 20 percent of total development spending in 2016/17 was still not appropriate.

Various international reports said Pakistan is among the world’s top-10 countries vulnerable to climate change. Frequency of both drought and floods increased in the recent past, causing huge losses.

Speakers expressed their views at the launching ceremony of a report, highlighting budget analysis of Punjab (2016-17), in particular reference to allocation against climate change adaptation.

The exercise was aimed at highlighting the significance of allocating more resources to meet challenges of climate change and global warming.

Experts said agriculture is one of the pillars of Pakistan’s economy and major livelihood source of rural communities.  It heavily relies on the Punjab province, but vulnerabilities of agriculture and livestock sectors to climate change are hampering the progress of the sectors.

Aneela Bibi, lead researcher of climate public expenditure review in Punjab 2015-17, said the provincial government allocated 20 percent resources to climate change related projects during 2016/17 as against 16 percent in 2015/16.

Bibi said a mere 3.36 percent of the public sector development programme, or Rs23.49 billion, was allocated to agriculture sector for 2015/16. As a percentage of the total budget, this also showed declining trend: from 10.28 percent in the year 2010/11.

Zakia Shahnawaz, provincial environment minister said small farmers, especially women, were worst hit by the impact of climate change. The situation in many parts of Punjab was depicting the same reality and hence, urgent policy measures are needed to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in extreme vulnerability.

Haibat Ali Khan, chief environment planning and development department of Punjab said utmost importance should be given to address the issues facing small farmers by ensuring development projects for rural community’s participation.

Women farmers from Rajanpur, Layyah and Multan said their crops were washed away, food couldn’t be stored, and livestock perished due to lack of vaccinations as a result of climate change and natural disasters. They appealed to the government to come up with gender inclusive and pro-poor policies and plans with appropriate resource allocation.

Javeria Afzal, an official at Oxfam said the organisation has been creating awareness among the rural communities on climate change adaptation and has also provided them a platform to raise their voice for pro poor policies and legislation.

Afzal pledged for continued support to the government to reduce poverty, strengthen voices of marginalised people and bridge the gap between policy makers and citizens, especially rural communities.

Hasan, Munawar. Budgetary allocations insufficient to tackle climate change. The News, February 2, 2017.

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