By Dr. Faiz Muhammad Kakar

Former Balochistan Minister and Team Leader MM Pakistan

Though Balochistan remained a case study of worsened affected province of the country by Climate Change for decades for all relevant stakeholders from the Government Academia, Think Tanks and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the occurrence of current catastrophic floods in July and August 2022, just after imposed four emergencies by the Government of Balochistan for combating the emerged impacts
of Climate Changes such as the Sherani Forest Fire, prolonged drought spell, spread-out the pandemic in Dera Bugti District and Heat Waves in the second quarter of the year 2022.

Balochistan, almost half of Pakistan is ultimately exposed and getting the major stake of climate change impact in the country however, some of the adding multiple factors are igniting the situation more critical for the last three decades. These factors include but are not limited to:
 The disbursed 5% of the population on 44% of the land of Pakistan is not allowing the Government to promote the society as resilient due to the non-availability of a huge size of budget for development. The maximum dependency of rural development is on natural resources
particularly on green natural resources (Water, Rangeland, Forest), and it resulted in the severe depletion and degradation of the natural resources, particularly where the impact of climate change is life-threatening  The lack of industrialization did not allow urbanization and population growth further increased the depletion and degradation of green natural resources.

Poor governance is an obstacle to using natural resources properly

 Poor Governance did not ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and allowed the manipulators to exploit the natural resource in an unsustainable manner such as through water mining and deforestation  Afghan War resulted in the influx of refugees and it further explode the depletion of natural resources.

 Due to a lack of awareness among inhabitants, natural phenomena have been intervened, and unnatural and un ecological Agriculture practices have been prompted at a large scale on the land natured for rangeland and it put the province into a highly water-scarce area in the country.  Lack of promotion of alternate energy sources such as Natural Gas provision to the rural population, hence the worst and most critical weather conditions compelled the population toward deforestation for the fulfillment of the energy requirement.

The situation of the province with above mentioned prevailing adding factors became deteriorated with the insertion of the climate change impact visibly observed during the last three decades and it pushed the province backward, the least developed and poor entity of the country.

The impact of climate change has been summarized as under but it could be behind:

 Prolonged and frequent emergence of drought spells pushed the populations towards fragile and untouched areas of resources for their survival and it further deteriorates the condition of rangeland, forest, and groundwater.  These drought spells pushed the population of the depleted region towards the fragile and untouched areas for the reduction of their poverty and it further
deteriorate the condition of rangeland, forests, and water.  These drought spells increased the influx of nomads toward Balochistan, particularly to the fragile range areas and the province which has been already providing the travel path to these nomads became under
a catastrophic situation.

 Drought spells increased poverty and it increased the dependency of poor people on natural resources and the depletion of natural resources increased day by day.  Time and again occurrence of floods due to climate change the number of
challenges that emerged for the inhabitants and increased poverty at large.  Floods destroyed the cops, houses and infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, and shacked the dreams of development for the whole province.
 The spread-out diseases due to drought spells and flash floods hit the farmers’ backbone of the economy of the province.
 New forms of the impact of climate change such as heat waves and forest fires diverted the struggles of the Government from development towards rescue and relief and engaged the decision and policymakers in combating these
newly introduced impacts of climate change.

The consequence of the impact of Climate Change in the province:

In the milieu of the above-narrated condition about the climate change impact, it is obligatory to highlight its result or outcomes to the inhabitants of the province and devise and propose a viable and practicable strategy for bringing out the province of such a catastrophic situation. Climate change impact on the one hand put the population of the province in a worse critical and dismal condition while on other hand providing opportunities to the decision makers for converting these threats and vulnerabilities into opportunities to develop the province and prosperous the inhabitants of Balochistan.

The damages and losses of these disastrous events can be visioned by the critical outcome of the recent flood of August 2022. For example, 336 human beings have been lost, three hundred thousand (321019) houses have been washed and affected, almost the crops on an area of six hundred thousand (590439 ha) hectares have been destroyed, 292526 animals have been killed, the 2221-kilometer road has been washed or partially damaged and 25 bridges have been ruined during the floods of 2022. In addition, 12 thousand people have migrated and 103 Dames have been damaged (Survey of Government of Balochistan Revenue Department, December 2022). The report of Post Flood Assessment by the Planning and Development Department Government of Balochistan estimated the total damages and losses at 890 billion Pak Rupees.
Likewise, during the flood of 2010, in Naseer Abad Division, with 97 casualties almost 2000 households became affected, and out of 1,315,342 population 667,951 were flood affected and the crops on 42124 acres were damaged and the cost was estimated that time 5545 million Pak Rupees (Commissioner office Naseer Abad Division 2010).

Between 1992-2021, climate and weather-related disasters in Pakistan resulted in a total of 2903 billion in economic losses (World Bank). losses While penning the result of the impact of Climate Change in form of drought, the province has a long history of droughts but the severe droughts (1997-2002) were the longest dry spells in many years. droughts result in a water shortage for livelihood activity to a population. In 1997 – 2002, a famine-like situation emerged due to the lack of precipitation in the region. The drought of 1997 – 2002 has been termed one of the worst in the history of Balochistan and can be estimated that it reduced the economic growth rate to 2.6 % during that period. 80% of Livestock Completely Perished in severely affected areas of Balochistan in the drought spell of 1997-2002.
According to the figures released by the Ministry of Finance, the drought caused a loss of PKR 25 billion to the national exchequer in the year 2000-2002.

The episodic occurrence of catastrophic events as a climate change impact increased the poverty of the population of the province time and again and promoted the indicators of almost aspects of the society as a less developed, poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable one in the country and could be easily observed from the below map where most of the Balochistan area is highlighted with red color and
red color shows the poverty. Similarly, the projected poverty in Balochistan was estimated the highest in the country in the below Table.
These consequences of the impact of climate change and other multiple factors explained above on the province are very alarming and provide a matter for concentration to policy and decision makers and compel them to find a viable way of carrying Balochistan out of this vicious cycle of crisis.

Combating Strategy to Climate Change Impact:

After the above discussion, there is an alternate school of thought and it is based on the idea of climate change as an opportunity along with a threat. There is a number of advantages of climate change and it is beneficial to some extent, particularly in the topography like Balochistan. In this context for dealing the climate change as an opportunity, a comprehensive strategy is required to be adapted by the decision and policymakers, particularly by the Government of Balochistan. For this, it is viable to be identified and define the mechanism and rationale of these advantages of climate change.

The advantages of Climate Change are illustrated and described as under:

1. Availability of water for storage Climate change provides opportunities for water storage in the province because it is unanimously agreed at a global level that climate change surpasses the frequency of precipitation while the quantity of rainfall remains almost the same. Flash floods offer prospects to consume the water in bulk through indigenous methods and globally tested and practiced techniques. The recent floods determined the demonstration of crops on a large area of thousands of acres with one watering of flood especially in the green belt of the province (Sibi and Naseer Abad Division) and heavy precipitation substantiates the recharge of water-providing
sources such as Karezes and springs particularly in northern areas of Balochistan. The indigenous methods of irrigation such as Khushkaba and Sailaba are now the most viable and needed practices for harvesting flood water and hence Government of Balochistan has initiated two projects for floodwater harvesting through Khushkaba and Sailaba practices with the support of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank through an integrated approach in different river basins. Likewise, globally tested and prescribed techniques like “Floodplains” are being practiced in the world and China has reaped the fruitful results of floodwater harvesting through Floodplains. The government of Balochistan and donor agencies must concentrate on the application of flood water harvesting techniques through a strong policy formulation and implementation.

2. Provide opportunities for urbanization Climate change distracts the rural population generally and creates migration and refugees while particularly in Balochistan climate change supports the policy and decision makers for congregating the scattered population of the province which is one of the major challenges of Balochistan. Climate change in Balochistan compelled the rural population towards urban areas because of the scarcity of water during drought and displacement of settlements during floods and earth quicks push the rural population toward cities and it provides an opportunity for Government to focus on better planning and facilitating the urban population in cities.

Although, urbanization was being thought of as an immense social challenge for centuries, however, now urbanization is believed as a valuable prospect of development across the globe (Parag Khanna 2021). In this milieu, extradentary achievements in development by fast-developing countries such as Singapore, China, Malesia, South Korea, and Middle Eastern countries are being followed by all the
developing countries in the region. Therefore, the Government of Balochistan must avail the opportunity to the project of urbanization being promoted by climate change.

3. Diversion of population towards alternate livelihood Climate change also pushes the population towards alternate livelihood. Again, in the a prevailing scenario where most of the rural population is totally dependent on natural resources, climate change forced the rural population to adopt alternate livelihood opportunities because the critical calamity events reduced the carrying capacity of natural resources and could not provide livelihood requirements to a large population. The best advantage of climate change is this diversion of the rural population from dependency on natural resources like water, forest, rangeland, agriculture, and livestock towards modern sources of livelihood including businesses, employment, industry, Technology, IT, computer sciences, and others. This diversion
ensures the transfer of society from one stage of civilization to another.

Especially, in the era of technology and the advanced stage of civilization, this diversion of population towards alternate livelihood must be projected by the Government of Balochistan through a strong, friendly, and attractive policy, and eventually, it provides the gap for
revival of the natural resources already degraded and depleted by climate change events.

4. Emergence of a resilient society Climate change guarantees a resilient society after time and again occurrence of climate change events. In Balochistan, the Government must deliberate on building the society as climate resilient. In this regard, the disasters resilient settlement, relocation of population and resettlement particularly in flood and drought-prone areas, community mobilization and strengthening, awareness creation, and many other interventions could be accomplished.

5. Promotes national and provincial harmony Though climate change creates devastating disasters sometimes, however, the
the emergence of such a situation sensitizes the nation and the whole nations moves forward to support, the affected population by disasters and it creates national and provincial harmonies and reduces ethnic differences, clans adversaries, regional diversities and other disagreements.

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About the Author

Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.