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Published Date: Jul 19, 2013

SDPI Press Release (July 19, 2013)

Semi-arid
regions in Pakistan are witnessing drastic environmental changes with
increased rainfall and climate induced disasters.  Beside effective
adaptation and policy planning, there is need to strengthen economic
resilience of local communities to cope with adverse effect of climate
change.

This
was discussed in a consultative workshop on “Climate Resilient Economic
Development in Semi-Arid Regions “organized by Sustainable Development
Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Thursday.
Consultation marked the start of a project by SDPI and Oversees
Development Institute (ODI)-UK to scale up climate-compatible economic
development in semi-arid regions of Central Asia, East Africa and West
Africa.

Speaking
at the occasion, Shamsul Mulk, Former Chairman Wapda suggested
expediting work on ‘institutional capacity building’ of related
institutions to cope with emerging challenges of climate change. He said
that floods in Pakistan are regular phenomenon which are causing
damages worth billions of rupees every year and the only way to address
this problem is through ‘preparedness’ and ‘structural planning’. He was
of the view that business as usual is no more an option as Pakistan
cannot afford more damages to the scale of 10-15 billion dollars as
witnessed in 2010-11 floods in Pakistan.

Talking
of improving capacity of public institutions, he stated that in
sixties, Wapda had no capacity to steer large projects, but with firm
commitment it was able to bridge capacity gap within short time and
completed the biggest ever water development structures of those times
under Indus Water Treaty including Tarbella, Mangla and other canals.

Dr
Azmat Hayat Khan, Director, Pakistan Meteorological Department
presented recent climatic models and revealed that rainfall patterns in
Pakistan are changing, where instead of Kashmir and Northern Areas,
semi-arid regions particularly in KP and Punjab are now getting more
extreme rainfalls events.

He further informed that average rainy days and precipitation have increased in Sindh whereas it is gradually decreasing in Kashmir and GB which are water lifeline for Pakistan. “Water
availability is also likely to be affected by westward shift in monsoon
which has started to miss the catchment areas of Tarbela and Mangla,
along with the fact that we don’t have any water catchment mechanisms in
these semi-arid areas which are receiving more rains,” he added. 

Dr
Azmat said that this climatic shift pose serious threat to semi-arid
zones by increasing their vulnerability and affecting agriculture,
livelihood, and economics of the region. He said that situation demands
immediate policy actions to mitigate floods in new vulnerable areas
along with measures to protect agriculture and conserve additional rain
water where no water conservation structures are present.

In
his welcome remarks, Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI
called the need for further research on climate induced vulnerabilities
that not only resonates with ordinary publics but can also influence
policy discourse. He informed that SDPI is building partnerships with
relevant institutes and supporting new breed of researchers to bridge
this research policy gap particularly in area of environmental
governance.

Earlier,
briefing participants about the project, Kashif Majeed Salik, Research
Associate, SDPI said that project seek to strengthen economic resilience
of communities living in semi-arid regions from climate induced
vulnerabilities and disasters .

During
consultation, there was consensus among the participants that semi-arid
regions are receiving heavy damages due to climate change which are
further aggravated by poor-adaptation and lack of institutional
governance.

Debating
sector specific economic development, participants suggested preparing a
comprehensive inventory of semi- arid regions in Pakistan. They also
demanded for collection of decade-wise data on change in rain fall
patterns to properly gauge adverse impacts on livelihoods sources with
possible adaptation strategies.

The
participants underscored the need to protect people’s livelihoods and
assets which are directly linked with their resilience and contribute
towards economic development of the region.  It was observed that
another way to adapt to climate changes is diversification of
livelihoods sources, with maximum policy level support along with
support from developed countries.