Published On: Fri, Nov 27th, 2015

Sea rise dampens hope for survival of farmers, fishermen

Sallah Abbasi

THATTA: Muhammad Ramzan Mallah, a professional fisherman and resident of Allah Dino village near Keti Bundar, a town on the edges of Arabian Sea in Sindh, is unable to cope up with affects of the rising sea.

“Many of my fellow fishermen were once agriculturists, but since the land has been eroded with seawater and salinity has increased, they are unable to grow crops and have switched from agriculture to fishing,” Mallah tells The Nature News. “But even fish catch has been reduced drastically.”

In recent years, several villages and agricultural fields have submerged under seawater, for which experts hold global warming responsible. The situation is so adverse that even fresh water has to be fetched from faraway areas.

After the worsening situation, many village dwellers, as well as residents of surrounding areas began moving to Karachi. However, Mallah is reluctant, saying he neither has the skills nor the resources to live in a metropolitan.

“The living standards in cities are much higher, which I can’t afford,” he says. “Those who migrated are worried about inflation, and lack of employment opportunities for the unskilled.”

Out of the initial 200 households in Allah Dino, adds Mallah, only 50 are left now.

Lack of freshwater and vegetation have in turn led to a fall in the number of cattle. Ramzan says in the times bygone, people reared cattle but due to non-availability of fodder and emergence of diseases in changing climate, the livestock has perished.

“No one is ready to rear cattle anymore. It becomes awkward when someone comes and there is no milk for tea,” he complains.

Poverty has also changed living patterns of the village dwellers. “Public sittings, fairs and all the fanfare have become things of the past now,” resident Rasheed Ahmad tells The Nature News.

Adding insult to injury, there is no access to health, education and energy. For medical treatment, the residents have to travel at least three kilometres. The same distance is covered by children to go to school.

Despite the difficulties, the inhabitants remaining in the village do not wish to move. Rasheed has the same apprehensions Mallah has – lack of employment opportunities for the unskilled.

Shehzadi Tunio, senior manager WWF-Pakistan says sea level rise is because of climate change, which has become a global issue now.

“Due to the shortage of water in Indus River and increase in temperature, level of seawater is increasing continually,” she tells The Nature News. “But the locals were not aware of this danger.”

Muhammad Ali Shah of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum says the most vulnerable to climate change are the coastal communities.

“Due to the rough sea and sea level rise, settlements are inundated in seawater. The problems are multiplying but there seems no strategy from the end of the government,” 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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  1. munir ahmed says:

    good story………………keep it up …dear

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