Published On: Thu, Oct 29th, 2015

Climate change deepens woes for Karachi’s coastal communities

The coastal communities of Sindh are facing sharp declines in their livelihoods and coastal ecosystem services due to climate change--said Shahzadi Tunio, an official of the World Wide Fund for Nature-WWF-Pakistan

The coastal communities of Sindh are facing sharp declines in their livelihoods and coastal ecosystem services due to climate change–said Shahzadi Tunio, an official of the World Wide Fund for Nature-WWF-Pakistan

Ruqaya Iqbal

KARACHI: Made from mats and bamboos, Fatima in her small hut, which hardly accommodates a single person, is preparing loaves on woodpile. Due to the heat from the burning fire, she’s sweating badly. Fatima’s husband is a fisherman, who sometimes fetches good catch but often its otherwise.

Fatima lives in Rehri Goth, Karachi’s historical fishermen’s village, 28kms from the city, on the edges of the Arabian Sea.

On one side of the village there are katchi abadis, with a road in between, which leads to the sea. A 10-metre long wall is constructed to stop water incursion.

In order to save the settlements from the rough sea, the dwellers used to grow mangrove trees, which prevent sea level rise. But now they are shrinking rapidly. Since gas in not available, inhabitants are using these plants as woodpile.

Due to sea level rise, major portion of the village is now under water, and over the years several families have migrated to other areas after their houses were submerged.

“Three decades ago, seawater used to be at least 100 yards away from the village. But now it is touching our house,” says a village resident.

When several houses were inundated with seawater, there was hue and cry, and some international aid agencies rushed to the village to help the indigenous fishermen.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has constructed small, concrete houses for some dwellers few meters away from the sea. These quarters were built four feet above the sea level but the inhabitants further raised them by one foot to stop the water from entering their house.

Asma, a resident who’s living in Rehri Goth with her husband and two children, tells The Nature News that every year during monsoon seawater enters her house, causing severe difficulties to carryout household activities.

“We often take shelter in nearby schools,” she says.

Shahzadi Tunio, an official of the World Wide Fund for Nature-WWF-Pakistan, and Masood Lohar of the
UNDP say sea level rise is because of climate change.

“The coastal communities of Sindh are facing sharp declines in their livelihoods and coastal ecosystem services due to climate change; however communities are still unaware of the linkages between the two,” Tunio told The Nature News.

She said that the phenomena such as rising sea levels, unpredictable variation in temperature and precipitation, and rising sea surface temperatures are observed at the local level, but communities do not understand how or why such rapid atmospheric changes are happening, nor do they have the capacity to deal with the circumstances that are brought about by these changes. “WWF-Pakistan is creating awareness among coastal communities for climate change adaptation,” says Tunio.

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

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