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Ratni is a 70-year-old widow who lives with her son and his family in Senate John Colony, located in Pithoro of Umerkot district in Sindh, Pakistan. They all live together in a cob house made of mud and straw.

“My son, Khemchand, is a teacher at a local private school. He used to earn a reasonable monthly income of PKR 8000 before COVID-19 forced all schools in the region to shut down. The school administration discontinued paying its teachers as the school was not equipped to carry out online classes and there were no incoming student fees that could cover teachers’ salaries. However, the recent monsoons brought some relief to us agrarian communities. The rains have revived the agricultural activities and have given us opportunities to work on the fields. My son and daughter-in-law started working on the fields and were able to bring home some income through that. It was not much but was better than nothing. Sometimes, I would also assist them on the field to earn a bit more to make ends meets.”

The harvest season lasts three months in rain-fed areas of Umerkot and until the next monsoon season arrives, there will be less or no opportunities to work on the fields. Therefore, Ratni, Khemchand and his wife had no work to do once the three-month period ended in August.

“We had no livelihood by then and were forced to sell some of our household possessions to buy essential food supplies for the house and particularly for my four young grand-children. We also had to take some loan from our neighbours when there was nothing left to sell.”

Community World Service Asia (CWSA), with support of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), is implementing a Humanitarian Assistance project responding to the immediate needs of drought affected Communities in Umerkot. As part of the project, 1, 206 families will be provided with two cash grants, each of PKR 12,000 in September through mobile cash transfer services to address food insecurity caused by drought, repeated locust-attacks and the economic implications of COVID-19.

Senate John Colony’s Village Committeeⁱ provided a list of families living in the area who were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural disasters to be supported through the project. As a result, CWSA’s emergency response team contacted Ratni as a project participant and she received the first cash assistance of PKR 12000 (Approx. USD 72).

“Through the money I received, I paid back the loans I had taken from neigbhours to survive in the last months and bought some food essentials for home. I have also saved some money to buy school books for my grandchildren for when the schools resume.”


ⁱ Village Committees are voluntary associations established for local administration. They are extra constitutional authorities comprised of 7-8 members including male and female from different caste in the village.

Dodo (far right) with his family

Dodo Maru Bheel is a 74-year-old father of two children, a son and a daughter, and a resident of Moriya village in UC Sekhro district of Umerkot, Sindh. He and his wife and younger daughter currently live with their son and his family (of six members, a wife and four children). Dodo has a visual impairment but he has never considered that as a disability or something that would hinder his life plans or goals. He is as resilient as can be and everyone in the village admires his determination and strength.

Dodo experienced a fatal road accident a few years ago. Due to an unavailability of an ambulance or timely first aid in the area, Dodo was unable to access appropriate medical facilities which further worsened his injuries from the accident. Since his financial conditions were unfavourable, he could not even afford most of the prescribed treatment at a bigger health centre in the nearest urban city. Dodo suffered a severe head injury which eventually lead him to lose his eye-sight completely.

With his sudden visual impairment, Dodo was unable to find any employment or paid work. He used to work as a daily labourer in the Umerkot city and surrounding areas. The elderly couple, along with their daughter, hence became financially dependent on their son. Their son, a daily wager, worked as a mason and the money he earnt barely met his own family’s basic day-to-day expenses, let alone a whole household of now nine members.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Pakistan, the government imposed a country-wide lockdown to restrict the spread of the virus. Many daily wagers lost their jobs during the lockdown; Dodo’s son was among them. The family could barely afford a single meal a day. Dodo and his son were struggling to keep their house running and their families fed. This dire situation prompted Dodo to sell a few of his goats during the days leading up to Eid-ul-Adha in late July 2020. His goats were his only remaining livestock and a supporting income means. Dodo also borrowed some money during the early days of the lockdown from a local landlord to meet their household expenses.

In April 2020, Dodo’s wife had received cash assistance of PKR 12000 (approx. US $ 71) from Ehsaas Kafalat Program as a part of the government’s COVID-19 relief fund. With that amount, Dodo and his wife planned to run a small scale, home-based business but his former creditors pushed him to pay back his loans with that amount so he was unable to use it for anything else.

The lockdown in the country has now eased but COVID-19 has left the country in a severe economic crisis that has pushed many underprivileged communities into poverty. Dodo and his son sold almost all the resources they had to sustain their family’s survival needs and are left with nothing now.

Community World Service Asia and UMCOR have initiated a project to respond to the needs of hazard and COVID-19 affected marginalised communities in rural Sindh. As part of the project, together with the support of village committees, the project selected Dodo as a participant of its cash-assistance. This will ensure that Dodo receives PKR 24000/- in two monthly installments to start his own small scale, home-based business.

Dodo and his family are happy to be selected and are looking forward to efficiently utilising the cash that they will receive next week and returning to a somewhat normal semblance of their life, as they did before the COVID-19 crisis. Dodo also hopes to save some of this money to consult an eye specialist for his eye-sight treatment.

Prepared by the Communications Office

August 26, 2020

This year’s fifth monsoon spell in Pakistan started on Monday August 24th and continued throughout Tuesday, swamping districts of Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Tharparkar, Mithiari, Sanghar, Nowshero Feroze, Jamshoro, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Karachi, Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Dadu, Hyderabad, Chor and Tando Jam in the Sindh province. Monsoon rains and subsequent flooding have left 90 people dead, 40 injured and large-scale infrastructural damage across Pakistan so far this year. Almost 900 houses have been fully damaged, while 195 have been partially damaged in the affected areas.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has confirmed 31 deaths in Sindh, 23 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 15 in Baluchistan, 10 in Gilgit Baltistan, 8 in Punjab and 3 in Pakistan Administered Kashmir during this monsoon season in Pakistan.

Many houses and public buildings, such as public hospitals, offices and schools, in rain-hit districts are flooded with rainwater and are currently inaccessible. The agrarian community has suffered even more massive damages to their land and harvests. Huge amounts of livestock in rural regions have also perished with the flash floods. Moreover, many rural communities in Badin and Tharparkar districts of Sindh have been displaced and have personally relocated to safer and more low-risk areas.

According to Pakistan Metrological Department, continued heavy rains and thunderstorms in lower Sindh are expected the week ahead which may further aggravate the situation. The Government of Sindh has therefore declared Emergency throughout the Sindh province.

Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) Response

CWSA’s Emergency response team is currently providing emergency cash assistance to flood affected families in district Dadu and are engaged in relief operations responding to the needs of COVID-19 affected communities in district Umerkot and Karachi city of Sindh. The team is also regularly monitoring the rain and floods situation and plans to extend their humanitarian response to provide support to flood-affected communities in other areas when required.

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

Source:

www.ndma.gov.pk
www.tribune.com.pk
www.pmd.gov.pk

Photograph: Jalil Rezayee/EPA

Prepared by Community World Service Asia’s Communications Office

August 26, 2020

Heavy rainfall has triggered massive flash floods in parts of Afghanistan on August 26th. Parwan, Kapisa, Panjshir, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Paktia, Paktika, Nuristan and Nangarhar provinces are regions severely affected by the floods.

Based on an initial report released by the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), 72 people in Parwan, 2 people in Nangarhar and 2 people in Maidan Wardak have been killed by the rains and the subsequent floods. More than 300 residential houses, 200 meters of retaining walls, 100 meters of roads, over 100 Jirebs of agricultural lands, 2 shops, public facilities, and overall infrastructure has been damaged in the affected districts.

The Parwan Public Health Directorate reported over 90 people wounded, in addition to those that lost their lives, due to the floods and heavy downpour. Most of those affected have been women and children. Officials have warned of an increasing death toll in the days to come.

The ANDMA further reported complete and partial destruction of hundreds of houses in the Charikar, Bagram, Jabal al-Seraj and Salang districts of Parwan province. Reports also confirm many people missing and still trapped under rubble of destroyed houses and wet soil in the flood-hit areas. The ANDMA and the Provincial Disaster Management Committee of Parwan have started search and investigation operations to rescue survivors and affected people trapped under the flood debris. There is no final report on the extent and exact magnitude of the damage yet as the numbers of affected people and reported infrastructural damage is increasing as the investigation process continues.  

A day earlier, on August 25th, the Afghanistan Meteorological Department (AMD), issued an alert forecasting heavy rains and floods in Kabul, Kunar, Nuristan, Badakhshan, Panjshir, Kapisa, Parwan, Laghman, Nangarhar, Logar, Khost, Paktika and Paktia provinces of Afghanistan.

The AMD has predicted a further possibility of more rain and flash floods in the mentioned provinces of Afghanistan in the coming days as well. As per the overall weather outlook released by AMD, the rainfall is expected to be between (10-40 mm).

Loss of lives due to any natural or man-made hazard causes definite irretrievable damage to the populations. But apart from natural disasters such as these monsoon rains and floods, COVID-19 has severely demobilised the global economy, including Afghanistan. In order to restrict further transmission of the disease in the community, Afghanistan, like many other affected countries, decided to impose a complete lock down. A large majority of the people in Afghanistan are now suffering from food insecurity. lack of access to clean drinking water, and other essentials. The increase in unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for more vulnerable communities to counter the floods and its impact.  These floods are expected to impact marginalised communities even more severely due to the on-going economic stagnation and COVID-19-related health risks. The probability of these communities being pushed further into poverty is much higher now. Flood-affected communities are in a dire need of emergency humanitarian assistance at this point.

Community World Service Asia is monitoring the situation and is coordinating with relevant government authorities, clusters and non-governmental organisations to provide updates and will assess the needs to make a decision on an potential emergency response.

Contacts:

Razia Muradi
Project Manager
Email: razia.muradi@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +93 765 683 200

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

Sources:

Aljazeera
Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA)
Local government officials

Photo credit: TRT World

This year’s fourth spell of monsoon rains, with three days of continuous downpour, has claimed at least sixty-eight lives, left many injured and caused large-scale infrastructural damage across Pakistan. The monsoon rains led flash floods have resulted in road blockages, breaches in canals and destruction of property.

An NDMA report confirmed the death of nineteen people in rain-related incidents in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, thirty in southern Sindh and Karachi city, eight in Punjab province and ten in the country’s scenic northern Gilgit-Baltistan region in the past three days.

In Balochistan, at least eight people have been killed, seventeen injured and 142 houses have been completely damaged after the monsoon rains hit land and resulted in heavy flooding in Khuzdar, Jhal Magsi, Lasbela, Gwadar, Pasni, Kachi, Dera Bugti districts and surrounding areas in Balochistan province. According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) reports, Sambli dam in Karkh of khuzdar district has been damaged, while nearly thirty villages and link roads in Jhal Magsi district have severely been affected by flood waters. More than a dozen people are still missing in Balochistan,” a spokesperson for the provincial disaster management authority, said.

A bridge at Pasni in District Gwadar along the Makran Coastal Highway and another bridge at Bibi Nani in Bolan district have been damaged resulting in a massive traffic suspension on both ends. Similarly, more roads in the surrounding districts have been blocked due to rain induced land sliding and flooding.  Gas pipe lines in Bolan have also been reportedly damaged by flood water.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 100 houses have been partially damaged and two have been made completely unlivable. There has been severe damage to standing crops, trees and civil irrigation channels in the province.

Different parts of Sindh including large urban hubs such as Karachi, Hyderabad and other districts namely Shaheed Benazirabad, Sakrand, Tando Jam and Thatta have been severely impacted by the heavy rainfall. Property damages have been reported in the affected areas. Majority of the deaths in Sindh have been reported in Karachi alone, with rain led electrocution being the main cause. Standing water, disrupting communication and transport, is also reported in many areas. Moreover, 28 ft. of water from hill torrents of Balochistan entered Nai Gaj, Tehsil Johi, District Dadu of Sindh. Over-flowing water from Nai Gaj has affected fifty villages in the province’s Kachho area.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) Response

CWSA’s Emergency response team is currently engaged in relief operations responding to the needs of COVID-19 affected communities in district Umerkot and Karachi city of Sindh. The team is regularly monitoring the rain and floods situation and will plan a humanitarian response to provide support to flood-affected communities when required.

Source:

www.ndma.gov.pk
www.dawn.com.pk
www.aljazeera.com

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

Prepared by Community World Service Asia’s Communication Office

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is working in partnership with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to combat locust infestations in various parts of Pakistan. Through financial support from the Japanese Embassy in Islamabad, Japan Platform and CWS Japan, 58,502 liters of Lambda Cyhalothrine EC2.5% pesticides are provided to Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) of the respective provinces. The intervention will ensure a safe and secure application of the pesticides as per the plant protection guidelines. CWSA is also supporting 1,600 farmer families with conditional cash grants for tilling/ploughing of lands to eradicate the locust eggs before hatching. With this support, around 16,187 hectares of land will be made free of locust eggs and will be prepared for the next cultivation. As an additional preparedness measure, around 2,000 farmers will be trained on Integrated Crop Management and Integrated Pest Management approaches to be able to efficiently manage similar threats in the future.

Many Pakistani farmers, particularly in Pakistan’s Sindh province, are currently struggling to combat a series of natural hazards that have left agrarian communities crumbling. The country’s agricultural sector has been struggling for years in the face of drought and dwindling water supplies and since last year has been hit by the worst locust plague to hit the country in nearly three decades. Showing no remorse, the COVID-19 landed in Pakistan with full intensity in March and has since endangered lives and livelihoods of millions of Pakistani people.

On Sunday July 5th the country was hit by its first monsoon rains that wreaked havoc in Karachi and other areas of Sindh further damaging crops and threatening lives. The rains are expected to continue pouring with the same intensity through the season. This will further drive Sindh’s most vulnerable rural communities into extreme poverty and famine.

Pakistan declared tackling the locust infestation as a national emergency in February 2020 as it destroyed huge areas of crop lands in the country’s most fertile province of Punjab. The Locusts have decimated entire harvests in the country’s agricultural heartlands and have sent food prices spiraling. The agriculture sector that provides food security and livelihoods to a large majority of Pakistan’s population has been damaged and severely threatened. 

Since June 2019, 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).  

The Food and Agriculture Organization has warned of ‘potentially serious food security crisis this year in several regional countries including Pakistan due to locust attacks’.

Community World Service Asia continues to work in close collaboration with the NDMA, PDMA[1] Sindh, local government bodies, district office and the local communities to manage these disasters, provide relief and rehabilitate affected communities with the utmost respect and dignity.


[1] Provincial Disaster Management Authority

Photo credit: globalvillagespace.com

Prepared by Community World Service Asia’s Communications Office

At least seven people were killed and dozens of others wounded in different rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi due to its first seasonal monsoon rainfall.

After weeks of extremely hot weather, residents of Karachi found consolation in the season’s first monsoon rains, pouring over 20 million people in the port city. However, the rains led to a series of unfortunate incidents of electrocution, roofs collapsing and uprooted trees and billboards that claimed seven lives.

Rescue teams reported that most of the casualties, including that of a woman and two girls, were caused by electrocution, while the wounded included those struck by branches, billboards, and other airborne items in the heavy storm. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), rainfall up to 43 mm was recorded in the city, and it wreaked havoc in areas that experienced heavy winds along with the rains. Electric poles were also uprooted in several parts of the city, resulting in hours-long suspension of electricity supply.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Sindh province, where Karachi is located, issued a warning of urban flooding in parts of the city and other areas of the province. PDMA noted that heavy rainfall is expected in the province due to the monsoon and that the people and the urban areas concerned should remain vigilant and take requisite precautionary measures during the forecast cycle to avoid any unfortunate incident.

For the next two days, the PDMA has predicted further rains on the same trend in the city. As per the overall weather outlook for monsoon released by PDMA, the monsoon rainfall is expected to remain normal (+10%) during July to September 2020 in Pakistan. Sindh and Kashmir are likely to receive moderately above normal (+20%) rainfall during August and September.

Pakistan is still reeling under the impact of coronavirus pandemic. The World Bank in a recent report stated that Pakistan and the rest of South Asia would account for two-thirds of the 176 million people expected to be pushed into poverty by the COVID pandemic.

Sindh and Baluchistan provinces of Pakistan have faced severe droughts for the past three years. In addition, Pakistan is suffering from one of the worst locust infestation in 25 years, while meteorologists have forecast widespread flooding, potentially compromising national food insecurity and displacing millions of people. In the midst of additional impacts by Covid-19 on health, livelihoods and food security and nutrition of the most vulnerable communities and populations of Pakistan, it is imperative to contain and successfully control the desert Locust infestation and provide immediate relief to the flood-affected populations in Sindh, as fears about food security are at an all-time high in the country.

Community World Service Asia’s 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. CWSA has worked in response to numerable humanitarian emergencies, providing assistance in food security, shelter and NFIs, health and WASH. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions on the sector and the communities, CWSA will ensure limited direct physical interaction with the communities and its response will mostly focus on provision of cash grants through mobile cash transfers.

Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Response:

For monsoon emergency response, NCA in collaboration with its implementing partners and relevant Government Departments will ensure timely operationalization of Mobile Water Treatment Units in Sindh and KPK provinces to provide safe drinking water. Also, at national and provincial level, coordination with disaster management authorities is ongoing, either directly or through the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum. Furthermore, NCA and partners present in Sindh, KPK, Punjab and ICT are engaged in ongoing COVID-19 response through WASH-IPC interventions.

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe Response:

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe has active presence in Sindh Province from the last two years and can mobilize resources immediately when required.

Contacts:

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

Imran Masih
In-Country Representative, DKH
Email: Imran.masih@diakonie-katastrophenhilfe.org
Tele: 92-51-8312 530

James John
Deputy Country Director, NCA
Email: james.john@nca.no
Tele: +92 51 8317407

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications Office, CWSA

Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
Bignewsnetwork.com
Reliefweb.int
Geo.tv
www.pmd.gov.pk

Photo credit: https://global.chinadaily.com.cn

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

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