Published On: Wed, Nov 18th, 2015

Disappearing fish stocks, soil infertility cause food insecurity

Syeda Tehseen Fatima

THATTA, SINDH: A seemingly abandoned area spread over hundreds of miles with dried bushes and children with amazement in their eyes and curiosity on their faces, one cannot believe this Indus Delta was once fertile.

Global temperatures are increasing rapidly, and Pakistan is also experiencing the atmospheric changes. With no proper strategy to cope with climate change, life of hundreds of families living along the Indus Delta is endangered.

The sea is engulfing the Indus River near Keti Bander, and the brackish water not only is changing the geography of the area but also creating dangers for thousands of fishermen living along the sea belt. This can also be witnessed by the deplorable living conditions of the dwellers of Allah Dino Patel village near Thatta.

With no proper strategy to cope with climate change, life of hundreds of families living along the Indus Delta is endangered.

With no proper strategy to cope with climate change, life of hundreds of families living along the Indus Delta is endangered.

Zahida with her husband and two children lives in a makeshift hut, which is deprived of most of the life’s basic necessities such as water and electricity, among others. Talking to The Nature News, she seems uncertain about the future of her children.

While the rising sea pushes away their village from the corners of the bay every monsoon, it also makes the marine life, their only livelihood, move to the deep sea. Adding insult to injury, saltwater intrusion has made the agricultural fields infertile.

Bed-ridden Ameerzadi has not eaten anything other than fish for long. “Due to infertility of land, we only have fish to eat,” she says. “There is no fodder for cattle; hence no milk, vegetables or any kind of meat.”

According to an estimate, almost 80 per cent of the income of these village dwellers is spent on food consumption.

A World Bank Survey says the food intake of coastal communities does not contain lentils, vegetables, fresh milk and meat. Other than fish, more often the people eat rice, onions and chillies. As a result, women and children are facing malnutrition and blood deficiencies.

According to an estimate, almost 80 per cent of the income of these village dwellers is spent on food consumptio

According to an estimate, almost 80 per cent of the income of these village dwellers is spent on food consumptio

Until the 1990s, district Thatta had a considerable number of livestock, i.e. buffaloes, sheep, goats and camels, etc. But in the absence of freshwater and non-availability of fertile lands, fodder has become scarce. Resultantly, there has been a decrease in cattle from the Indus Delta.

Ghulam Rasool Khatri, a representative of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan says food insecurity has forced hundreds of water communities to migrate to other areas. However, many are still reluctant to move.

Chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah says a major reason of delta’s devastation is the cutting of mangroves.

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

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