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Pakistan has been hit by severe locust infestations since June 2019. The Food and Agriculture Organization has warned of ‘potentially serious food security crisis this year in several regional countries including Pakistan due to locust attack’.

Since Pakistan and Iran’s recent wet winters made a favorable breeding environment for locust swarms, the two countries have been most prone to locust attacks this year.

Agriculture accounts for twenty percent of Pakistan’s GDP and analysts fear that the pest damage by locusts could cut Pakistan’s economic growth to less than 2% by the end of the fiscal year in June 2020. Pakistan’s agricultural sector has already struggled for years in the face of drought and dwindling water supplies and this will add further damage to this sector that provides food and livelihoods to thousands of agrarian rural communities.

Pakistani farmers are currently struggling to combat the worst locust plague to hit the country in nearly three decades; insect swarms have decimated entire harvests in the country’s agricultural heartlands and have sent food prices soaring. On February 1st 2020, tackling the insects was declared as a national emergency as a large scale of cropland was destroyed in the country’s most fertile Punjab province.

According to the United Nations, heavy rains and cyclones sparked “unprecedented” breeding and the explosive growth of locust populations on the Arabian Peninsula early last year. The same locust swarms made their way to Pakistan after wreaking havoc on agriculture lands in other neighbouring countries, such as Iran. Locust swarms from southern Iran have started migrating to Pakistan from the areas of Iran-Baluchistan border and have started devastating standing crops in different part of the country. These locust swarms have laid hundreds of thousands of pods which will hatch as soon as they get a favorable environment and are feared to devour the new batch of kharif seasonal crops.

Thirty-eight percent of Pakistan’s land (60% in Baluchistan, 25% in Sindh and 15% in Punjab) has become a breeding ground for the desert locust. If the breeding regions do not contain the hazardous pests, the entire country could well be threatened by a locust invasion (FAO).

It has been estimated that the losses to agriculture in case of a locust invasion can reach to about Rs205 billion, considering a 15% damage level for the production of wheat, gram and potato.

At 25% damage level, the total potential losses are estimated to be about Rs353bn for Rabi (winter) crops and about Rs464bn for Kharif (Summer) crops.

With the Covid-19 looming high and threatening lives and livelihoods of the people of Pakistan, it is imperative to effectively and quickly contain and control the desert locust infestation to save the country’s prime production sector and livelihood and food security source.

Community World Service Asia’s Response

In response to the locust swarm attack in Sindh, Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is supporting 1,600 farming families with conditional cash grants for tilling/ploughing their lands to eradicate the locust eggs before hatching. With this support, around 1,600 hectares of land will be rid of locust eggs and will be prepared for the next cultivation. Under this project, CWSA is also supporting the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) with provision of pesticides and is providing training to approx. 2,000 farmers on Integrated Crop Management and Integrated Pest Management approaches as preparedness measures. This will enable communities to efficiently manage pest attacks in the future.

Sources:

  • Dawn.com
  • Food and Agriculture Organization

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Email: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4 

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Dear Partners & Friends,

We all are facing difficult times due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The COVID 19 presents unique challenges in relation to understanding of the humanitarian organization and their capacity to respond. In the current situation, our collective commitment to accountability to affected people will be more important than ever.

Both the Sphere and Core Humanitarian Standard Alliance (CHSA) have come up with important information for strengthening principled humanitarian action for responding to the current crises. Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is organizing a Webinar: Q&A Standards in COVID19 Response on April 9 at 11 am, to provide an opportunity to humanitarian professionals to learn about using Quality and Accountability approaches while responding to emergencies like COVID-19.

The webinar will guide humanitarian practitioners on using Q&A tools in their response and will help develop key messages to raise awareness for the most vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19.

We look forward to your Registration for this webinar. Please find attached more details on the webinar.

Click here to download Brochure

Thank you,
Best Regards,
CWSA Team

Pakistan has recently experienced a fierce desert locust attack. On February 1st, the Government of Pakistan declared the attack as a national emergency due to the presence of the prolonged locust swarms and the damages that they have caused to the agricultural crops and local rural communities in parts of Sindh and Balochistan. The locusts enter Pakistan from two sides; on the western front, the locust swarms enter Pakistan through Balochistan from Iran, while from the east, they attack through Indian Rajhastan in Cholistan and Tharparkar deserts.

Last year in March, the locust swarms entered Balochistan and further spread into the Sindh and Punjab provinces by June 2019. After summer breeding in Thar, Nara and Cholistan deserts of Sindh and Punjab, the locusts migrated to Indian Rajhastan deserts in July and re-entered Tarparkar in Sindh in October 2019.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO) anticipated that the locust infestation in Pakistan will persist throughout October and then will move into south eastern Iran and Sudan by mid November. However, the outbreak has continued due to moisture in the atmosphere, sandy soil and vegetation and favourable weather conditions ( caused by climate change) for the locusts to breed. This is not the first time for such an attack. Locust swarms have caused huge damages to Pakistan’s agriculture back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1990s as well. According to FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, “locusts increase 20-fold every generation, which equates to roughly 8,000 times the number of locusts compared to the beginning. In search of food, locusts travel in swarms (of between 30 to 50 million) and can cover a distance of 150 kilometers to devour 200 tonnes of food in a day.”

After three years of arid conditions, the region saw pouring rains this season, recharging the wells and pushing up tall grass. The villagers sowed their crops and were looking forward to a bountiful harvest when the locusts struck.

The General Secretary of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture has announced that the locust attack this year has destroyed 40% of crops which include wheat, cotton, maize and tomato. The local communities feel that the locust attack has destroyed their standing crops. The area had received some rains in monsoon season, and though the rains were inadequate for the revival of all agricultural activities, it had still produced some pasture/grazing areas for livestock. These pastures have also been entirely damaged by the locust and has resulted in extreme food insecurity among local communities and their livestock.

The Government has taken action against this insect infestation over 0.3 million acres (121,400 hectares)  and aerial spraying over 20,000 hectares of land has already been done. “District administrations, voluntary organizations, aviation division and armed forces are all positioned into operation to combat the attack and save the crops,” shared by the Minister for National Food Security. In order to mitigate the effects of the locust attacks in future, Integrated crops and pest management (ICM/IPM) trainings are proposed to make the communities aware on pest management and on which crops to be cultivated and are less prone to such attacks.

Source
www.dawn.com
www.gulfnews.com
httts://expresstribune.com.pk

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Emal: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4 

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Seventy-three-year old Kasi, from village Ranahar of Umerkot district, takes care and provides for her bed-ridden son and his family. She works for agricultural produce on their local fields.

While sharing her challenges and talking about her sufferings of recent years, Kasi could not help but reminisce about their better days,

Just a few years ago we were leading a very happy life. My son earned PKR. 15,000 per month as a tractor driver. His monthly income was sufficient to meet our family’s needs. However, those days were short-lived as our happiness turned to sorrow when my husband started experiencing frequent chest pains and fever and had to leave his job. Soon after, just four years from today, he was diagnosed with asthma and severe lung illness which could lead to chest cancer within years if not treated properly. With his job gone and barely any income, we could not afford his medication which further aggravated his illness.

Kasi added,

Our worries further heightened when our agricultural fields completely dried up. The drought had struck our lands.  I was not even able to collect a single grain from our field in the last two years.  Only my God knows my struggle and how I was trying to feed my family since the last two years. Not even our neighbours or relatives were able to help us.

On March 2019 Kasi and her family were selected as participants of a drought response project implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by Presbyterian World Service & Development and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Through the project, Kasi’s family, along with ninety more severely drought-affected families in Ranahar village of Umerkot received six rounds of food packages.

Before receiving this food assistance, I used to start worrying about what we would eat each day at the first light of dawn. Having even a single nutritional meal seemed to be a challenge each day. But thankfully, I do not need to worry about that anymore. The food provided to us has saved us from many sufferings. The quality and quantity of food provided is much appreciated by all of us.

Kasi is happy that her family and other families affected by drought in the area will be assisted with food supplies for the next six months. This support will be sufficient to feed the families until their own agricultural produce can be harvested in September.

AJK Earthquake leaves thousands homeless

Large areas of the districts Mirpur and Bimber of Pakistan’s Azad, Jamu & Kashmir (AJK) province were severely jolted by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on September 24, 2019, with the epicenter at only a depth of 10 kms.  The two districts, which house about 876,824 people, suffered large-scale human and economic damages. A reported thirty-seven people lost their lives, and 579 people, including women and children, have been injured. Strong jolts not only damaged shelters and infrastructure but also severely affected the livelihoods of local people[1].

Most recent information received from the office of the Commissioner details that a total of 10,500 families in Mirpur and Bimber, have been affected by the earthquake.  This information has been further verified by the initial assessment that National Disaster Consortium (NDC[2]) members have conducted. The assessment reports a total of nine thousand houses affected; with two thousand houses completely destroyed, and six thousand partially damaged.  These six thousand houses cannot be repaired with minor work as the damages are massive.  The report further claims fifty acres of land as uncultivable due to the destruction, and with boreholes, which are the main source of drinking water, severely contaminated and undrinkable due to violent movements in the earth. During Community World Service Asia’s Emergency program team’s field visit,  a number of health issues were also reported among earthquake-affected communities as many suffered from vomiting after consuming water from the boreholes.

Affected communities from Mirpur and Bimber are in dire need of food and non-food items (NFIs) as many families are currently living in open spaces, under the open sky. Families, with houses, partially destroyed, are also living in the outdoors due to fear of their houses collapsing from aftershocks and rains. The condition of these communities has been worsened due to the aftershocks and the unseasonal monsoon rains that continued uptil the first week of October.

The province of AJK has long been a disputed territory of Pakistan and has therefore been less developed, with a weaker economy and infrastructure. The government has initiated a damage assessment of the earthquake-affected area but the focus has been on infrastructure damages as the government resources are limited and the immediate priority has been rescue operations and to functionalize the local infrastructure.

The villages and small towns most severely hit by the earthquake are among the poorer regions of the district. The majority of the population of these smaller villages and towns depend on low paying daily wage jobs or agriculture as their main livelihood.

With the support of the START network and ACT Alliance, Community world Service Asia is supporting 1170 families with the provision of shelter tents, winterization tents, hygiene kits, water filtration, and hygiene promotion.

A latest Government-led need assessment reports 12500 houses as fully and partially damaged (being non-livable). A recent AJK geological department report has also notified of all and any kind of construction to be stopped until further notice. According to research conducted by the department, the pressure under the earth has not completely discharged during the earthquake because of which movement beneath the earth’s surface still continues. This is hazardous for reconstruction. With the advent of winter, the temperature has dropped to -4 degrees celcius, with the needs of the affected communities increasing and not being met, the Government of AJK has officially requested Community World Service Asia for supporting them with providing an additional 3500 winterization tents through an official letter [3].

Community World Service Asia is currently conducting a needs assessment to identify the long term needs of these communities. This will be made available and shared shortly.

Affected community-members report:

“The 24th September Earthquake was a horrible experience for my family. That day I was on my bed, sleeping with my youngest son. I felt heavy jolts followed by an earthquake. Our homes were destroyed. There was no source of clean water in the area. Water was contaminated and the area was facing issues of hygiene and poor sanitation. The provision of Hygiene Kits and water filters from Community World Service Asia’s WASH team has been a blessing for us as we have lost almost everything.” Iftikhar Ahmed, Village Afzalpu,r District Mirpur, AJ&K


“The earthquake caused a catastrophe in our village, Mughal Pur. I am a disabled man and unable to walk properly. This earthquake completely damaged my house and water-well which we had made in our house. The water in the well is now contaminated and not safe to drink. All our water-storage containers were lost when our house collapsed. The WASH Kit provided by Community World Service Asia has been specially very useful for my family. We have access to clean drinking water and other basic items to use in our everyday life.” Muhammad Latif, Naie Abadi Mughalpura, District Mirpur


“My home was destroyed in the earthquake and my family has been very disturbed. It was really scary to see catastrophe everywhere; houses collapsed, large cracks appeared on roads and life became stagnant. It all happened very suddenly. There was no ray of hope for life. But now there is an activity in which we are receiving assistance from CWSA. These things are beneficial for me and my family. We have received a Hygiene kit which contain relevant things regarding personal and domestic hygiene. My family and I  will use this to access clean and safe water.” Farrah Iftikhar,  a widower from Village Mugalpura, District Mirpur AJ&K


“I am an 85 year-old widow, living alone. My house was completely destroyed in the recent earthquake. Community World Service Asia visited my damaged house and enlisted my name in their project. The aid provided by the relief team will be enough to last me six months. The water filter provided in the aid kit is one of the most valuable items for me as we need clean drinking water to survive and maintain good health.” Saad Noor Bibi, Village Kharak, Mirpur, AJ&K


“The WASH package received through this emergency project has been life-saving for my family and me. I work as a maid in different homes in this area, through this I earn little income. This income is not sufficient enough to purchase all the items we received in the WASH package. We are very grateful to Community World Service Asia and its partners for coming to us at this time of emergency and helping our families to overcome the loss and challenges we suffered.” Nasreen BiBi F/2 Kachi Abadi Mirpur, AJ&K


Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Email: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338


[1] Shared by District Commissioner Mirpur

[2] National Disaster Consortium NDC is a consortium funded by DFID members are few national, international and UN agencies.

[3] Letter of request from Government for support

Baseer Ahmad, resident of Village Kikri, Mipur Azad Kashmir. His father passed away in the earthquake.

Large areas of the District Mirpur, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), were jolted on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake with a depth of only 10 km. The area experienced frequent aftershocks; the strongest, with a magnitude of 4.8, occurred on Thursday, September 26 and injured an additional 70 people. Two districts, Mirpur and Bimber, which are home to an estimated 876,824 people, suffered large scale damages. Recent information from the Office of the Commissioner stated that 10,500 families in Mirpur and Bimber alone have been affected by the earthquake; this information has been verified by the Natural Disaster Consortium’s initial assessment.[1]

As per the NDC’s report, 37 people in Mirpur lost their lives, and 579 people, including children and women, were injured. Heavy jolts damaged shelters and infrastructure as well as badly affected livelihoods. The NDC stated that a total of 9,000 houses have been affected; of these, 2,000 are fully destroyed and 6,000 are partially damaged. The houses with partial damage have major structural damage, requiring more than minor repair. Additionally, 50 acres of land has become uncultivable. Boreholes, which are the main drinking water sources in the affected areas, have been disturbed and contaminated; since the earthquake, turbidity has been reported in the drinking water. Health issues among the affected population have included had vomiting after drinking water from the same sources. Household and non-food items in the target area have also been destroyed, people are in need of food and many are living under open sky or with family. Their situation has worsened with the recent monsoon rains, which will continue into October 2019.

The infrastructure in Kashmir is very weak in context of the strong earthquakes it faces. The villages and small towns of the hardest-hit districts are amongst the poorest; the majority of the population relies on agriculture, daily wages or are caretakers of houses and have very low salaries. The Government has initiated the damage assessment of the area, but due to resource limitation, it has mainly prioritized and focused on infrastructure damages. The Government has been very forthcoming in providing assistance but again owing to resource limitation and level of damages it is not managed to cover all sectors.

Community World Service Asia, with support from the Start Network and the Act Alliance Rapid Response Fund, is supporting affected communities with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. In the short term, communities in the affected areas are also in critical need of shelter/winterized tents, food, non-food items, safe drinking water, health interventions and psychosocial support. In the long term, recovery and rehabilitation support will be required for rehabilitation of their shelters, revitalization of their livelihoods, school rehabilitation and WASH support.

“It is difficult for me to go through this situation as I never thought I would be one day sitting under a tent, in need for assistance. This experience of the earthquake thought me an important lesson that there are kind people everywhere in this world. Humanitarian workers from different NGOs came to provide assistance.”

Shazia, resident of Kikri Village, Mirpur District

“It was around 4:00 P.M. when the earthquake occurred. I was in my shop when I received a call that my house has collapsed and my family was in the house. I fainted at the sight of my collapsed house. I came to know my family was safe after two hours of unconsciousness.”

Rukhsaar, Kikri Village, Mirpur

[1] The Natural Disaster Consortium (NDC) is a consortium funded by DFID; its members include national, international and UN agencies.

At least 38 people have been killed and 614 injured (160 reportedly in critical condition) in a devastating earthquake that rocked Bhimber and Mirpur Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Jhelum and other districts in Punjab and parts of KP on September 24, 2019 at around 4 o’clock.

The epicenter of the 5.8-magnitude quake was near the city of Mirpur, 22 kilometers (14 miles) north of the city of Jhelum along the boundary separating the agricultural heartland of Punjab province and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the US geological agency, USGS, said.

As aftershocks continued to rock the region, many left their homes and spent the night on the roadside or in parks.

Rescue operations have been carried out by the Pakistan army and are about to complete while the relief activities have also started led by Army and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) through local government.

The Prime Minister of Pakistani Kashmir, Raja Farooq Haider Khan, told reporters that infrastructure had been destroyed. Roads, mobile phone towers and electricity poles in the area were badly damaged.

454 houses with 135 severely and 319 have been partially damaged however, the figures are expected to be increased with the information pouring in from the inaccessible areas.

Due to the damages occurred to the infrastructure, some of the affected areas have not yet been reachable and information from those areas are yet to be arrived.

Confirmed by the Deputy Commissioner of Mirpur, almost 70% of the houses structure in the Mirpur city have been damaged due to the earthquake and the communities are avoiding residing inside these cracked houses.

He further shared that tents, blankets, drinking water and food items are the immediate top priority needs of the affected communities.

Community World Service Asia Response:
Community World Service Asia is in contact with the local government and other stakeholders active in the area. Its emergency response team is on standby and can start the relief operations immediately if required.

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Email: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-3 

Zunaira Shams
Sr. Communications Officer
Email: zunaira.shams@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 12 34390541-3 

Sources:
theguardian.com
tribune.com.pk
thenews.com.pk

Representative of University of Agriculture Tando Jam delivering a presentation.

Water scarcity is one of the main challenges for communities in the Thar Desert, which also includes almost half of Umerkot district. During field operations, Community World Service Asia and partners observed significant negative impact on the lives and well-being of the local communities from chronic water shortage and drought, putting these communities at high risk. Their main sources of income are agriculture and livestock, which are totally dependent on the availability of water. Owing to these issues, Community World Service Asia is partnering with Community World Service Japan (CWS Japan) and Japan Conservation Engineers & Company Limited (JCE) to implement an emergencies project to enhance drought-related disaster resilience by improving access to water and supporting drought-resilient agricultural practices in Umerkot district.

Under this project, the partners organized a one-day workshop on August 30, 2019, to determine how various stakeholders within government and non-government organizations can better coordinate to resolve these issues. Key questions to explore included how to determine the best locations for well digging; how technologies can be used to identify potential areas for aquafers; and how communities and relevant government departments can support the maintenance of these resources to make them more sustainable.

The training drew an estimated 25 participants from government departments such as the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Arid Zone Agriculture Research Institute (AZRI), Extension Department, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Sindh University of Tando Jam, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Sindh, Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), and Water Management Department as well as staff from Community World Service Asia.

Mir Hassan from Community World Service Asia started the workshop with an overview of the project and its stakeholders. During the training, the participating government agencies were given a chance to share about their roles, responsibilities and achievements in the field of disaster management to highlight best practices and find synergies in support of the at-risk communities. Representatives from PDMA Sindh, Sindh University of Tando Jam and Pakistan Metrological Department began by presenting their work and areas of expertise.

Then the lead trainer, Takeshi Komino of CWS Japan, shared the findings of the field visit with the workshop participants and discussed where collaboration is required to address the water-related issues of the communities. He also shared how potential areas for digging wells can be determined in cheaper and more appropriate ways using technology and how Electrical Resistivity Surveys can be done at specific locations to get clean water.

Then the representative from PDMA Sindh, Ajay Kumar, shared about their mandate and the response they have extended to the drought-affected communities to date. The representative of the Sindh University of Tando Jam, Arshad Narejo, followed by sharing about their work in the field of Disaster Risk Management. Then a representative from the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Abid Laghari, shared about their research and existing resources and how one can efficiently utilize meteorological data to minimize a community’s vulnerability to drought and other disasters.

The workshop was concluded with a note of thanks by Komino for the participants’ collaboration and expertise in service to the communities affected by the drought.

Mai Kenkoo, a 70-year-old elderly grandmother to four young children, lives in the remote, drought-struck village of Ramsar[1] with her son and his family. The family managed their expenses well with harvesting two acres of agricultural land that Mai Kenkoo owned. Her daughter-in-law worked to manage their land’s agricultural output and cattle which sufficiently fed the family and allowed them to save money to pay for the education of three of their elder children[2].

Life, however, became difficult for Mai’s family when severe drought hit the region and Ramsar village in September last year 2018. The area had been frequently affected by droughts in recent years, but the latest one had a more severe impact on the people living here. For more than a year, Mai’s family has not grown anything eatable. Mai remembered her deceased husband,

Not only were we better off when he was around but also it was less difficult to cope with the rigors of life in drought-stricken conditions.

 Her husband who was a cobbler and was a support system for their family until he passed away in 2009.

The old couple only had one son and no other children to call their own. Their son was diagnosed with tuberculosis a few years ago and treated with incorrect medicines which further exacerbated his health. Mai’s son works as a cobbler for a living and mended rubber skinned water gallons commonly used for fetching water in the area. His monthly income is between PKR 800 -1000 (approx. USD 6). His wife works on handicraft production from her house and embroiders ethnic Sindhi caps for the local community on order. Through this, she earns an average monthly income of PKR 3000-4000 (approx. USD 25). Before the drought, she was also engaged in farming activities on their land.

Since mid of last year, there were no yields from our fields. My daughter-in-law worked hard but could not grow a single crop without water. Her health started deteriorating too and was unable to breast-feed my youngest grandchildren. The children’s health suffered too. There wasn’t enough food to feed them.  They felt weak and refused to walk to school. I could see the weakness on their face. None of us were able to fill our stomachs well. And there was nothing to save for future meals or to sell-off. My son’s health also worsened as good nutrition fights back his illness but there was not enough food to keep him healthy anymore. He had to stop working due to his worsening health.

The drought had affected the health of their livestock.

With no rain and the continuing dry spell for two years, we had no fodder or water to feed our cattle. They had become like skeletons and we eventually lost them to malnutrition,

narrated Mai. With the leftover farm animals (four goats and a donkey), currently, the family’s daily needs are met with the fresh produce of the cattle. Mai’s goats and donkey graze on dried sunflowers receptacles that grow wild around their land which saves their fodder expenses and gives the donkey enough energy to fetch drinking water for the family[3].

While Mai’s two elder grandsons, seven and eight years old, are off from school for summer vacation, they fetch water as they place a tire-shaped rubber water gallon on their donkey on a three-kilometer (one-way) ride.  The water they fetch is used for the family’s drinking and cooking needs of a day. When their school was on, this task was carried by either of their parents. Water for animals is sought from a nearby approachable tube-well the quality of which is bitter in taste.

Mai shared that her grandchildren’s primary education is free, but the family’s income is insufficient to meet even their household expenses. In times of illness or medical emergencies, they cannot afford the travel expenses to go to hospitals or buy medicines.

To respond to the severe drought conditions in rural Sindh, Community World Service Asia launched its emergency food assistance project, supported by Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) and PWS&D, in Umerkot district of Sindh in March this year.  The project aims to assist 1600 households affected by drought through the distribution of one-month food packages between March and August 2019. Some of these households belong to Ramsar village. Mai’s family is selected as a participant of this emergency food-security project.

God has now provided us a means to food through this project. We are coming out of difficult times and not only get to eat three meals a day but are also able to save for later. In the past, we not only worry about our own meals but also for that of the cattle.  Now we only worry for their survival. Worrying about providing meals for the family lead to a lot of tension among people at our home and in the neighborhood. Tension impacts our ability to do other work also,

stated Mai.

Water scarcity is a common problem in most villages of Umerkot. Rural women carrying matkas[4] on their heads and young boys riding donkey carts to fetch water long distances away are an everyday sight here. But with no water at all and the long droughts, it is becoming difficult for these agrarian rural communities to survive. Mai highlights other issues crippling the already resource challenged community, such as increasing unemployment and lack of nearby health facilities, especially for women. She remembers facing these problems here since she was a young girl but with time she feels the conditions have worsened.

This humanitarian drought response project not only supports provision of food inputs to communities but also ensures sustainability of livelihood beyond the project period through distribution of millet (baajra) seeds in its fourth round of distribution for the upcoming sowing season. These millet seeds will be cultivated and will provide the families a source of agricultural output in the months to follow.

My daughter-in-law will cultivate the seeds. If it rains, we will be self-reliant for our food needs. I have faith in God, he will do better for us,

 hoped Mai.


[1] Located 45 kilometers from Umerkot city.
[2] They walked to their school which was half a kilometer away from their home
[3] Water had to be fetched from a well it was 3 kilometers away from their house.
[4] Sand-made jars

The emergency food security and nutrition project launched in March 2019, supported by the Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D) and the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB, is assisting 1,600 most vulnerable drought affected families in Umerkot district of Sindh province in Pakistan. Through the project, these disaster-hit families are supported with food distribution and nutritional programs that will last for six months.

The low rainfall has triggered a drought situation in the southern parts of Sindh Province. The districts have not receive any significant rainfall in the monsoon seasons resulting in a long dry spell.  The Pakistan Metrological Department released a drought alert in September declaring Umerkot and seven other districts of Sindh as severely drought affected areas. As per the assessment conducted by National Disaster Consortium (NDC), comprising of International Organization for Migration (IOM), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), ACTED and Hands, District Umerkot was identified as one of the worst drought affected districts in Sindh with 31,390 affected families in 25 Dehs (A deh is an area composed of number of small villages). The assessment results of NDC for district Umerkot revealed that as per the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), approximately 72% of the surveyed households in Umerkot are moderate to severe food insecure while 28% are severely food insecure.

In the third week of June, the third round of the project’s food distribution was successfully completed in four different locations, reaching hundreds of drought-affected families from twenty-two villages of Umerkot District. Most of the affected families, who have solely been dependent on agricultural income, were also provided with millet seeds, sufficient to cultivate two acres of land, for the next sowing season to provide a more sustainable means of economic support and to improve their food security conditions. . To ensure easy accessibility, the distribution points were selected in consultation with local communities.

Food packages distributed under this project are developed in line with the minimum standards outlined by Sphere for food security. Meeting these standards, the food packages designed and distributed ensured the provision of 2,100 kilocalories for each person daily. The package includes 60kgs of wheat flour, 15kgs of Rice, 7kgs of pulses, 4kgs of sugar, 6liters of cooking oil, 400g of tea leaves, 800g of iodized salt and a pack of 10 matchboxes.

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