For centuries, coastal belt dwellers around the globe have been famous for having a prosperous life — because they possess rich sources of sustenance — but anyone might change their views regarding that concept if they would visit the coastal belt of Sindh.
According to a report, nearly half of the world’s population lives in coastal belts (areas which are situated 50 km away from the sea). Sindh’s 350 km long coastal belt consists of thousands of villages of districts Karachi, Thatta, Sujawal and Badin. Presently, the area is a home to an absolutely deprived population.
Once upon a time, the coastal belt of Sindh was a prosperous place for nearly every living being. During the yesteryears, natural ponds of sweet water were brimming with hundreds of fish species, thick forests were the symbol of region’s prettification, the locals’ agricultural lands were not yet made unproductive by the unkind intrusion of the sea, and there was excessiveness of fodder for livestock.
Presently, the area is being confronted by the barbarous effects of climate change. Fresh water bodies have almost vanished; consequently, many fish species have also died off. Forests — which used to protect localities along seaside from natural disasters like sea intrusion, thunderstorms and cyclones etc. - have been cut down extensively. The groundwater of local agricultural lands has turned into marine/saline water, which has made them infertile.
This is a miserable, torrid time: when habitats of other species are not safe in this region, how humans can be considered safe and secure? Non-availability of fodder for livestock, scarcity of sweet water, and lack of basic human needs like educational institutions, hospitals, roads, light etc. is forcing the local people to resettle themselves to other towns/cities.
Hundreds of government schools are still closed; which were declared officially closed by the provincial government during floods and heavy rains of 2011. Parallel to this, the condition of local health centers/units is also disappointing. Luckily, if any BHU (Basic Health Center) is active in these remote areas, it is being operated by any local health technician, not a proper doctor.
As no government official visits these far-flung rural areas, no development work/scheme is carried out by any government department, which is making the situation more miserable.
The locals are really on the horns of a dilemma; they have to choose between staying there and dying out, or migrating. Who can be responsible for such a miserable situation: the locals themselves, government entities, or nature? I think everyone is equally accountable for making this paradise of the past a no man’s land.
Who can be responsible for such a miserable situation? Nature, the government, and the locals are equally accountable for making this paradise of the past a no man’s land
International welfare organisations and environmental protecting agencies like UNDP, GEF, GGGI, IUCN, UNEP and WNO etc. should play their role to rehabilitate the entire coastal belt of Sindh, so that the effects of climate change can be minimised and the lifelessness of the locals’ souls can also be revitalised.
Moreover, government entities should also undertake sincere efforts for bringing back prosperity in the belt — till the cows come home and make the area liveable once again for every living specie. Provision of durable metaled road, quality educational institutions, quality health services in villages, and income generating opportunities for the youth of the area at the village level can improve the lifestyle of the people in the coastal belt once again.
The author is a Badin-based freelance writer
Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.