Hyper-arid Achro Thar seeks a new lease of life

Hyper-arid Achro Thar seeks a new lease of life

Dozens of the goats, sheep, cows and camel have died in drought-hit Achro Thar of Sindh, and there are reports about the death of a large number of peacocks in this arid region.

Despite all that, neither the Sanghar district government nor the provincial government has started any relief work in the area.

Achro Thar - as it is called - has lesser vegetation as compare to Sindh's vast spread Thar Desert. This unique 'White Desert', which is actually an extension of Thar Desert, has very low underground water level. Unfortunately, the area as has always remained on lesser priority in government schemes.

Located in eastern side of Sindh and spread over 4,805 square kilometres along the Indian border in Sanghar and Khairpur districts of Sindh, Achro Thar is a unique desert with vastly scattered white sand dunes. Despite spread over such vast area, Achro Thar consists of only four union councils, and has a total population of around 60,000 individuals.

Achro Thar is one of the most backward areas of Pakistan, often affected by droughts due to which the underground water level has dropped drastically and the area runs out of fodder for animals and food for humans. When there is drought, animals and birds start dying in first phase, and human in the second phase.

Thar Desert is fertile and when it rains, Thar turns into a lush green field. Whenever it is hit by a drought, it gets relief after rains. On the other hand, Achro Thar is barren and even if there is rain, it doesn't get much vegetation.

Atta Chaniho, a local politician and former member of the Sanghar District Council, confirmed that a large number of animals and birds had died in the area, but the deaths were not reported by mainstream media. Talking to Daily Times, he said that the area had not received any rainfall during the past four years, and that the situation had worsened this year. "Though Achro Thar is not fertile as Thar Desert, we used to get some grass for animals in the past after rains. However, during the past few years, there has been no grass despite rains, which is all due to climate change," he said.

Chaniho said that due to increasing population, people in this unique desert had started using pastureland for living, which had also contributed to the worsening situation. "Livestock is the only source of livelihood, but mostly government relief is restricted to the people, due to which relief efforts are not giving required results," he said.

Though the Sindh government has recently introduced a pipeline to supply river water to the area, that scheme is also limited to a small portion and the water is distributed on a political basis.

"The government must start relief work before children start dying in this region," said Ali Muhammad Rajar, a resident of Hathongo town.



Published in Daily Times, June 21st, 2017.