By: Gulab Rai, Islamkot –Thar. Sindh
Severe drought has occurred in the Thar desert of Sindh Arid Zone. Failure of monsoon observed in all the talukas of district Tharparkar of Sindh reeling under drought during this year (up to September 12, 2008), only 58.1 mm of rain has fallen in 75% area of Thar desert This is only 20% of the normal rainfall, which is 300 mm. However, it is too little and too late for many crops in the area and it resulted in severe shortage of food, fodder and water.
The migration ranges from 10 to 15 percent in normal years when the population moves to the sugar harvesting and cotton-picking canal irrigated areas outside of Thar. However, the migration after September invariably occurs in drought conditions. Approximately 38 percent of the populations had migrated and specifically in some areas like Nangarparkar, it was as high as 55 percent. People were continuously migrating till March 2009.
The past five months of drought were very hard. Though there was a period of WFP relief for school children, Government subsidized wheat and Benazir Income Support Programme contributed a lot in the food security and helped to keep situation under control. Again the poorest people had given preference to migration to barrage area for the wheat harvesting, because they always remain out of the list from such benefits like Benazir Income Support Programme.
From the last week of April the migrated community started returning from wheat harvesting along with 5 to 8 mound of wheat grain. The people of Nagarparkar Taluka are also starting to return with their cattle’s because they cultivate their land with oxes. But this year the water situation is becoming worse. Not only in few villages or UCs but entire Thar is badly affected. People have to wait more than 3 to 4 hours to recharge their wells. As compared to other parts of Thar Nagarparkar taluka’s situation is worst. Even in Nagarparkar town, there is only one well which is fulfilling water needs of its residents. However, most of the wells have dried up because there have been thin rains last year and aquifer did not get charged. In union councils Veerawah, Pithapur and Nagarparkar, wells are the major source of water and charged by rain fall. Last year there was no good rainfall so water table of the Parker belt went down.
According to Mr. Natho, 39 years old of village Saanker “we are investing 60 per cent of our time on water. We bring water form different villages in these days (May-July), I bring water from Veerawah which is about 6 KM from our village because all wells are dried up in our village. We use water like cooking oil”. The same story about water is repeated in different villages. Due to acute shortage of water the birds and other wild life of the area is also at risk. Mr. Laghdero Kolhi, 50 years old of Village Kolhi Very told us that he has found sparrows, doves and other little birds dead.
The economy of Tharparkar is largely dependent on livestock. Due to drought situation livestock has suffered a lot. Pastures had dried up after November 08 then livestock has to depend on trees and toxic bushes. Huge number of livestock becomes die due to “pest des petites”, “enterotoxaemia”, “diarrhea” and “bloody diarrhea” diseases. Due to weight loss sheep and goat prices has also dropped 50 percent.