Climate change experts, academia and students of Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam on Thursday discussed climate change and called for engaging communities to resolve and cope with the related problems.
The experts discussed causes and the frequency of natural calamities, including floods, cyclones, tsunamis, drought, and heat waves. They believe the government does not have policy mechanisms, or even if it does, there is a lack of implementation.
Hence, they urged the community people, residing in different climatic zones to play their role to live safely, as they were the custodians of natural resources and should be aware of the threats.
Nasir Penhwar, leading the Centre for Environment and Development (CEAD), was the key speaker, who gave a presentation on ‘climate change: an overview’, to discuss the effects of climate change and gaps in resilience methods at community level.
Penhwar said, “It seems now there are only two seasons, extreme heat wave and biting cold. Earlier, winter started in mid-November, but now it starts in January. Likewise, extreme heat wave in summer has created problems, killing people in urban centres.”
This phenomenon has affected crop yield and soil fertility, and was also impacting health. The people depending on natural resources like marine, inland fisheries, river, agriculture, forests and wetlands have suffered a lot due to climatic variations, he said.
Due to environmental degradation Sindh loses 15 percent GDP annually, as compared to the national figure of six percent, he said. Around 65 percent land is Sindh is arid, comprising Kachho, Kohistan, Tharparkar and Achhro Thar. People in these areas depend on rainfall for farming and livestock rearing, Penhwar said.
The Centre for Environment and Development leader also said prioritising only agriculture in water use was depriving lakes of the precious resource, making the dependent ecosystem fragile and threatening for the wildlife species.
Mangroves in Indus Delta, a natural shield against cyclones and tsunamis, are also depleting fast because of the receding river water. Penhwar said Pakistan was paying a huge cost of climate change and global warming effects in shape of heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, soil infertility, and food insecurity.
“While developing countries have laws and mitigation mechanisms, Pakistan does not have legal formation and implementation,” he said. Despite being a signatory of UN laws and conventions, the government was not implementing those laws and hence the communities suffered.
The students from different areas of Sindh shared their experiences and suggested involving communities to adopt resilience to avoid impacts of extreme weather.
They suggested introducing disaster risk management courses at school level. They urged for establishing a climate change wing at both provincial and union council (UC) levels.
They emphasised the need for more investment in health due to climate change. SAU’s Prof Muhammad Ismail Kumbhar discussed water issues and the need to spread awareness regarding careful use of the fast depleting resource. “You (students) are the water agents currently. You have the responsibility to guide people to carefully use water resources,” he said.
Khaskheli, Jan. Community participation must for coping with climate change. The News, February 17, 2017.