Published On: Wed, Nov 25th, 2015

Of neglect, pain and distress: Life of fishermen at the seashore

Maria Ismail

THATTA, SINDH: All over the world, seashores are recognised as fun, open air sites, where visitors and dwellers alike get close to nature and like to spend more and more time. But in Pakistan’s Sindh province, seasides portray a picture of apathy, pain, distress and negligence.

Pakistan has a 1,050km-long coastal belt, including 350kms in Sindh. The province’s sea belt, which also includes Karachi shore, is badly affected from climate change, as rising temperatures have led to sea level rise.

Yar Muhammad, a resident of Allah Dino Patel village in Kharo Chan says intrusion of seawater has resulted in submerging of several villages, with thousands of acres of agriculture land also being inundated.

Underground water has also turned brackish, leading to freshwater shortage, and destruction of agriculture fields, he adds.

“We are here for the last 50 years but have not faced such a drastic situation before,” he laments, as we see tears in his eyes.

Sea level rise, which experts say is increasing at an annual rate of 3.5mm, has also reduced fish catch, affecting livelihoods of the watermen.

Hussain Ahmad, a village dweller, says he only earns Rs25,-000-Rs30,000 each season as marine life has moved to distant waters.

“During monsoon, we work for landlords in nearby villages,” he tells The Nature News.

As a consequence, regular exodus of area population has become normal, with a majority of the people migrating to nearby cities. “Only 45-50 households are left here now,” claims Muhammad.

On top of that, there seem to be no basic facilities, i.e. health, education, energy and clean drinking water in the village.

Ahmad says brackish water use leads to skin diseases, among other ailments.

“Sweet water is brought from faraway village Sajan Wari by paying in cash.”

Field Coordinator of Worldwide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) Ghulam Rasool Khatri says although the settlements were submerged temporarily, it permanently destroyed the agriculture, and also affected the livelihoods of the fisher community.

Mohammad Ali Shah of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum agrees with Khtari, blaming global warming and glacial melt to be the cause of sea rise.

“The developing situation has made the coastal communities highly vulnerable,” he says.

This article 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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