Published On: Sun, Aug 3rd, 2014

Even herdsmen will feel effects of climate change

Safiullah Shahwani


Nasir Marri, Balaach Marri and their cousins strive hard to mint a livelihood for themselves and other members of their family at a very young and tender age in the scorching heat of the day near Shahbaz Town of the Provincial Capital of Balochistan—the territorially largest but ironically the poorest province of Pakistan.

Perhaps, the only means of their livelihood, since generations, has been rearing cattle and other forms of live-stock. However, circumstances beyond their apprehension brought a sudden change in their lives.



“Our forefathers lived in Sibi and the grazing plains of Sibi would provide sufficient pasture for our cattle,” said Nasir Marri with shinning innocence on his face and added that rising temperatures, droughts and depletion of rangeland forced us to look forward to shift to Quetta.

“My grandfather had cattle in thousands, my father was left with hundreds and we are struggling to survive with around less than 100,” Nasir said and added that the garbage heaps in the city are replete with the skins of vegetables and fruits which provide for the food of their cattle. “The goats also eat polythene bags and other impure substances from the tabs,” he said and added, “But we have left with no other choice!”


Nasir Marri and his family’s tale is not the single one of its kind. During our visit to the precincts of the Provincial Headquarter Quetta, the largest urban centre in the entire Balochistan, we came across number of makeshift camps where people had sought refuge along with their cattle and were fighting with the bitter circumstances around to live a life.

What forced Nasir Marri and people like him to shift to urban centres, this scribe contacted the provincial head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Mr. Faiz Kakar who opined that there is no doubt the rangelands have depleted considerably in the province.



“This is partially because of the droughts, heavy and eroding rains, and unpredictability of the weather,” said Mr. Faiz Kakar and added that however, it would be wrong to say that only shortage of rangelands forced such people to shift to Quetta but other factors also contributed to it.

When asked how such trends could be stopped, he said that the rangeland management, which has been neglected equally by the government and non-governmental organizations, has to be focused. He said that the only way to conserve nature was to link it with the lives of the people. “When the livelihood of the people is linked with the nature and environment, they would make efforts to protect it themselves.”

In telephonic conversation Dr. Dawood Riaz, the provincial coordinator Disease Early Warning System (DEWS) WHO, also indicated to the rising of temperature in the province which has affected the flora and fauna in the entire province.

Dr. Khair Muhammad, a Ph.D scholar and a professor in Agriculture Department at Lesbella University Balochistan, opined that due to the climate change around the globe, the cropping patterns have changed in the entire province. “Balochistan’s economic dependence was largely on the live-stock and agriculture but the rising temperatures and changed cropping patterns have affected the people’s life and economy,” he said and added that the crops in Balochistan are mostly rain-fed which also served as food for live-stock. “Extreme weather conditions have affected both and have also forced people to look for alternatives,” he said.

When asked if climate change had anything to do with this situation, he said that climate change brought large spells of drought in the province and also caused floods. “This can be figured out from the fact that the Bibi Nani Bridge in Bolan district was designed by British rulers in accordance with the maximum flow of water and had no likelihood of being washed away, but it was washed away during recent floods,” he added.

“The sources such as fountains and water streams, which sustained the lives of the people, their agriculture and live-stock, dried up which forced people to either shift to urban centres or look for alternative means,” Dr. Khair Muhammad added.

The Regional Director of Met Office in Balochistan, Saifullah Shami also indicated to variations in the weather and said that a rise in the temperatures has been recorded over the years.

All this situation clearly indicates that the climate change, which has alarmed the world, is also showing its impacts on the lives of the people, agriculture, live-stock and economy. This calls for the government’s and other concerned authorities’ preparedness for meeting the unseen challenge sooner than later by taking steps in the right direction.

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