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The News

Published Date: Jul 22, 2013

Workshop on climate resilient economic development held

Semi-arid
regions in Pakistan are witnessing drastic environmental changes with
increased rainfall and climate induced disasters, necessitating to have
effective adaptation and policy planning to strengthen economic
resilience of local communities to cope with their adverse effects, said
speakers at a half-day.

This was the conclusion drawn at a
half-day consultative workshop on ‘Climate resilient economic
development in semi-arid regions’ organised here by Sustainable
Development Policy Institute.

It marked the start of a
project by SDPI and UK-based Oversees Development Institute to scale up
climate-compatible economic development in semi-arid regions of Central
Asia, East Africa and West Africa.

Addressing the
workshop, Shamsul Mulk, former chairman Wapda, asked for 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 phenomena causing damages worth billions of rupees every
year and the only way to address this problem is through preparedness
and structural planning. He observed 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.

He
said that in 1960s, 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 Tarbela, Mangla and other
canals.

Dr Azmat Hayat Khan, Director, Pakistan
Meteorological Department, said 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 said that average rainy days and precipitation 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.

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.

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. Dr Vaqar Ahmed Kashif Majeed Salik from SDPI also
spoke on the occasion.