ISLAMABAD: Oxfam has called for action to tackle the climate change to ensure that everyone has enough to eat and enjoys a safer climate.
Climate change is already affecting the farmers in Pakistan and is set to devastate their ability to grow food if left unchecked. A time when people are already facing hunger and the demand for food is rising, the unpredictable and extreme weather in Pakistan and around the world threatens the production and the nutritional value of both the crops and livestock. The human health is at risk and the food prices are likely to rise. The speakers and the panelists highlighted these facts during Oxfam’s event on ‘Resilience and Climate Change’ held on Wednesday. The panelists emphasised that there is a strong need to realise that the climate change is one of the major factors for the rise in temperatures, intense rains, droughts and production losses in the agriculture sector.
Oxfam’s Country Director in Pakistan Arif Jabbar said: “Climate change is a real threat to the food production but it is within our power to ensure that everyone’s right to food is ensured. Urgent action is needed to build the resilience of the food system by helping farmers to adapt to the changing weather while at the same time requesting the government and the companies to cut their emissions.”
In Pakistan, the devastating flood in 2010 destroyed over 570,000 hectares of farmland in Punjab, affecting more than 20 million people and destroying 80 percent of the food reserves. The climatic models have already predicted more floods in Pakistan. According to Iftikhar A Nizami, Oxfam Pakistan, the flood caused a massive 75% reduction in the total income of the families who were affected.
Extreme weather conditions associated with the climate change are causing heavy pressure on land and the water resources which is likely to get worse in the near future if these issues are left unchecked. According to a World Bank study, western Himalayan glaciers would retreat for the next 50 years causing increase in Indus River flows.
Then the glacier reservoirs will be empty, resulting in decrease of flows by up to 30%. Both of these scenarios are posing serious threats to livelihoods of the people.
However, there is still time, knowledge and resources to improve the situation. In Pakistan, Oxfam and its local partners in the coastal belt of Sindh have shown that the adaptation is possible with better planning, effective and efficient utilisation of resources and active participation of communities. The fishing communities in Badin have restored their livelihood with participatory planning, involvement of government and adaptation measures including construction of an embankment. The embankment has resulted in reviving of the livelihoods, protection against cyclones and floods, thus ensuring food security for themselves.
Oxfam shared this on the same day when the research from the BBC media action revealed opinions and experiences of ordinary people on the frontline of the climate change in Pakistan.
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