Published On: Sun, Sep 27th, 2015

After droughts, rains add insult to injury of Tharis

Many inhabitants returned to their villages following the first shower in hope of fodder for their animals but there wasn’t much to their surprise. Photo by Amar Guriro

Many inhabitants returned to their villages following the first shower in hope of fodder for their animals but there wasn’t much to their surprise. Photo by Amar Guriro

Hanif Samoon

MITHI, THARPARKAR: Habibullah Mallo, a resident and elder of his village in Bhakuo union council of Diplo taluka of Tharparkar, has tales of trouble and hardships Tharis have been facing since decades. Droughts, he says, have forced many to ponder about their future, and the prospects of coming generations.

Mallo says the incessant droughts in Tharparkar have forced the inhabitants to move to barrage areas. Along with their livestock, people move in search of fodder for their animals and food for their families.

“We have already shifted our cows to Badin and Tando Allahyar district but the sheep left behind are in great danger,” he says.

The Thar Desert, also called “an open museum of nature” borders India from its eastern and southern sides, and spreads over 19,637 sq. kms with the population of about 1.5 million.

Mallo, who sits along with other villagers at his Tarai, (pond for storing rainwater) says survival is difficult in hostile conditions caused by prolonged droughts.

Mallo’s opinion is endorsed by Bharo Mal, a writer and environmentalist based in Tharparkar. Bharo claims the sheep are fast dying in Thar and their breeding has greatly subsided because of unavailability of enough food supply.

Infographic

“Camels and goats survive for longer periods even in times of crises but for sheep it is difficult.”
Tanweer Arif, Chief Executive Officer of SCOPE, an organisation for protection and conservation of environment also says global climate change is to be blamed for the worsening situation in Thar.
Arif, whose organisation is active in Thar for many years, says climate change is like a tumbling boat with a lot of holes but no one is serious enough to fill the holes.

“There would be a time the boat will sink,” he says.

He demands the government to frame policies to at least minimise the negative impacts of climate change in areas which are most vulnerable to droughts, floods and earthquakes.

While many might have thought that a record rainfall of 40mm this monsoon will bring an end to troubles faced by Tharis, the downpour, unfortunately, added to the already existing plight.

Locals said the heavy downpour washed away their indigenous seeds, which produce vegetation just days after a good shower. Photo by Amar Guriro

Locals said the heavy downpour washed away their indigenous seeds, which produce vegetation just days after a good shower. Photo by Amar Guriro

The people, who prayed and waited for the rains with baited breathe did celebrate the first shower but their joys, jubilation and celebrations could not last for long.

According to locals, the heavy downpour washed away their indigenous seeds, which produce vegetation just days after a good shower.

Even the crops sown by peasants could not get a favourable environment to grow, thus incurring huge losses on farmers, who had bought the seeds either on credit or by keeping their gold or other valuables as mortgage with local traders in Mithi, Diplo, Islamkot, Chhachhro, Kaloi and other towns.

Many inhabitants returned to their villages following the first shower in hope of fodder for their animals but there wasn’t much to their surprise.

Environmentalist and historian Mushkoor Falkaro, who has recently written a book on Thar, “The Folk Wisdom of Thar and Science” says the phenomenon of the climate change in recent years has totally changed the lives of the inhabitants of Thar, putting them on the verge of survival.

He blames the global climate change, deforestation, and the fast changing modes of the cultivation for the worsening situation.

The Locals blame the global climate change, deforestation, and the fast changing modes of the cultivation for the worsening situation

The Locals blame the global climate change, deforestation, and the fast changing modes of the cultivation for the worsening situation

“The use of tractors in ploughing the fields after rains is hazardous: has totally damaged the fertility of the soil,” Falkaro says, adding if a desert’s soil is ploughed deeper, it loses its fertility.

“Only a thin layer of the land is fertile here. The tractors have damaged the fertile layer, which is why in recent years, the traditional crops could neither germinate nor grow in size,” he says. “The use of tractors for ploughing agriculture lands should be banned to avoid damaging the fertility of the land.”

Among other things such as water filtration plants and building small dams to store rainwater, Falkaro urges the locals and government functionaries to make efforts and get rid of Devi trees, which according to him are hampering the growth of other foliage.

Officials of WWF-Pakistan also recommend planting environment-friendly trees.

The Thar Desert spreads over 19,637 sq. kms with the population of about 1.5 million.

The Thar Desert spreads over 19,637 sq. kms with the population of about 1.5 million.

This article has been published in arrangement with NCEJ as part of its training in Tharpakar on “Reporting impacts of climate change on communities”

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  1. Humayun Khan says:

    a very detailed covered story.
    keep it up Hanif Ji.

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