By Dr. Abdul Razak Shaikh,
The livelihood and food base of people of Tharparkar depends mainly on grazing animals and partially on subsistence agriculture. Agriculture is mainly dependent on monsoonal rains which are erratic and variable in quantity and to a very little extent sweet groundwater is available at a few places.
The current livestock population of Tharparkar district is probably above seven million. Most people in the area depend on the agro-pastoral economy for their livelihood. Livestock, fully or partially, contributes to the financial system of every household of about 1.5 million people of the district. Thar must be given priority in matters of livestock development. PPP government has keenly interested to solve the basic issues of Thari.
The authorities should devise a holistic livestock development plan to include introducing cross-dairy farming and taking measures for increasing the livestock health improvement facilities.
They should further develop local territory lands and range lands to promote grazing areas, discovering markets for profitable trade of livestock and its products, butter, ghee brand, and packing should be standardized.
As a yet another venture to combat drought in Tharparkar, the Sindh government has launched a pilot project to deliver free fodder to the livestock owners.
With the aim of addressing the problem of migration of Tharparkar’s food and water-starved people and their livestock, the Thar Fodder Distribution (TFD) Project will supply free fodder to 20,000 households breeding livestock. Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) informed that SECMC’s welfare arm Thar Foundation and Sindh Livestock and Fisheries Department, which will jointly execute the project, signed a memorandum of understanding in Tharparkar on last week of November.
According to SECMC, four union councils of Tharparkar have been selected but the pilot project will be extended to other areas of the district, which has an estimated livestock population of 7.5 million, at a later stage. According to the agreement, the Thar Foundation will conduct an android application based empirical survey to determine eligible households.
The list of beneficiaries and the distribution points will be uploaded on the websites of the department and the foundation besides being displayed in the concerned villages. Livestock is the primary income-earning a source of Tharparkar’s people and the Sindh government aims to support livestock-owning households through the TFD project.
Thar Foundation said that they recently distributed fodder among 1,600 households affected by drought.
CM Shah gave a cheque of Rs50m to the Thar Foundation chief for providing fodder to 20,000 families of Islamkot Taluka so that they could feed their livestock.
Thar Foundation will ensure a fair and transparent system of equitable fodder distribution, the government and civil society will be an active part of the supervisory and advocacy mechanism to ensure overall objective. The system will be a monitor with developing a complaint Management system with civil society, village-based committees and journalist will be in a team.
TFD project will execute with Thar foundation to provide fodder to eligible households through an empirical survey.
In Tharparkar District and the surrounding areas of Sindh Province, cereal production shortfalls due to drought, coupled with losses of small animals, has aggravated food insecurity and caused acute malnutrition.
Livestock also falls victim to droughts in various ways; water shortages and their impact on grazing make animals weaker and more prone to disease. The consumption of herbs mixed with sand causes digestive problems, metabolism disorders and viral infections that are highly contagious.
High livestock mortality rates and losses of weight significantly reduced the income of the people in the drought-affected areas. The impact of drought in rain-fed areas of Thar and Khirthar was much more severe. More than 80% of respondents reported that high costs and unavailability of feed and water and lack of clinical facilities were the major reasons for the death of their livestock.
As such, prices of livestock fall and farmers are either unable to sell their animals or do so at prices that jeopardize their income. Seeing as there is barely any kind of veterinary service in Tharparkar, the final outcome of the disease is often death, and given that the population depends on livestock for milk and meat, this inevitably increases their vulnerability to malnutrition and reduces their resilience.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Wednesday arrived in Sindh’s Tharparkar district where he visited several health facilities and reviewed the ongoing development projects. He was accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
Talking to journalists at Thar coal field, he lauded the efforts of the Sindh government in providing relief to Thari people, who have been hit by a severe drought due to nearly zero rainfall.
He, however, stressed that there was still a need to work on providing quality healthcare and education to the people living in the desert district.
The efforts of Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah over the Thar development are impressive and PPP government wants fully equipped Mithi Hospital, anti-natal care, food supplement to pregnant women to prevent further malnutrition and decrease the rate of infant mortality.
Hope in future Royalty of coal mining will also shine the Thar, though it will take time but need proper Check and balance and must be free from Corruption.