Experts raise alarm to counter future heat-waves expected to hit Pakistan hard

HYDERABAD: Environment experts and civil society leaders on Monday called for taking result-oriented actions to counter climate change implications on Pakistan that cause frequent floods, extreme heat-waves and droughts.

This was stated by environment and civil society experts at a dissemination seminar on “Gender and Social Vulnerability to Climate Change: A Study of Disasters Prone Areas in Sindh”, organized by Social Policy & Development Centre (SPDC) and Society for Environmental Actions, Reconstruction and Humanitarian response (SEARCH) in collaboration with International Development Research Centre (IDRC) at a local hotel.

SPDC’s Principal Economist Nadeem Ahmed said that climate change is affecting rich and poor people. “It is slackness that we do not take climate as threat and that is why we are suffering from it.”

We should prepare to tackle possible floods, cyclones and other disasters but we should not wait for them, he said. He said that during the last 30 years, climate change had brought changes in rural Sindh.

The crop production has declined and floods have risen, SPDC leader said that climate change in rural Sindh had left implications on crops, affecting income of people.

Commissioner Hyderabad Syed Asif Hyder Shah said it is unfortunate that we are facing calamities of climate change. “The floods, which use to come after a long time, are now hitting the country almost annually. Heat-waves and cold leave severe impacts on weak people having low nutrition.”

He said that Pakistan has very low employment rate. “Drainage system is big issue of Hyderabad. Rs 3000 million are needed to revamp drainage system of Hyderabad, but the question is who will give this huge amount of money.”

The solid waste is being thrown in drains of Hyderabad which cause overflowing of gutters. There is need to ban polythene bags. Forest cover in country has been declining which is loss to environment. He stressed the need to raise more trees to reduce impacts of climate change.

“Women need financial support to reduce their gender and social vulnerability. There is need to empower women through innovative programs like Benazir Income Support Program, “ commissioner said.

SEARCH Executive Director Waheed Jamali said that climate change is big issue in the country, which needs to be tackled with joint efforts of the society and the government. He said that frequent floods and droughts had badly affected Pakistan’s agriculture sector. The government needs to adopt solid policies to save agriculture from effects of the climate change.

FAO representative Mumtaz Mangi said climate change is one of the biggest environmental disasters, which is hitting Pakistan. Sindh is also affected by it. Agriculture in Sindh has also been affected by climate change that cause floods.

Dr Islamuddin Majeedano of Institute of Agriculture Research said rising melting of glaciers in Pakistan is causing floods, while droughts are occurring due to global warming.

UN Women’s Representative Asim Abro said that SPDC deserves appreciation for conducting study on gender and social vulnerability. He said: “There is need to boost gender equality in the country’s society. Politicians are only making policies, but they are not involving in practice in this regard. He said that there is need to train women for saving them from natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. “Women do not swim and resultantly, they sometimes drown in floods. They do not know how to save themselves from quakes.”

He said that series of floods has hit our country hard, but the work to tackle it is not efficient. “The government works only during floods but fact is that flood relief work is required to do whole year. “

Farzana Buriro of Indus Research Centre said that keeping environment clean and green is mandatory for socio-economic development. “Civil society needs to work jointly to tackle environment issues.” She said that women in rural areas are working hard. They are working almost all types of works at par with men. However, there is need to empower them financially.”

Hyderabad Press Club’s President Jaey Parkash said that conducting researches is a good omen, but it will be too good if such works are practically used. Climate change is a big issue of this era, hence, there is need to counter it effectively.

Environment expert Nasir Panhwar said that climate change is a big environment issue facing Pakistan, but it is matter of great concern that some people of different school of thoughts are treating it as no issue of Pakistan.

“Thatta land is being eroded by sea but it is not being inundated by sea rise. There is need to tackle this issue. PDMA response to disasters in districts is not up to the mark, as only Deputy Commissioners are givens all types of such works, which is not good omen,” he said. Nasir said civil society does not have sufficient funds to tackle environmental and other issues; however, the government has sufficient funds and it could use it in this regard.

He said that universities should conduct research on environmental issues and we should make them as think tank.

Sindh Hari Porhiat Council Leader Punhal Sario said that SPDC had conducted a successful and useful research on climate change implications on four districts of Sindh – Badin, Dadu, Thatta, and Tharparkar. “This study should be used to resolve climate change issues affecting these districts.” He said that Dadu, Badin, and Thatta districts are rich with water and other natural sources, but question is why there is high unemployment in these areas. He said that wrong policies are being formed in the country, which fail to environmental issues. He said that most of the projects are given to foreign countries like China on the basis of commission which is great unfortunate of this country.