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World Environment Day 2021

For too long, we have been exploiting and destroying our planet’s ecosystems. Ecosystem loss is depriving the world of carbon sinks, like forests and peatlands, at a time humanity can least afford it. Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown for three consecutive years and the planet is at one pace for potentially catastrophic climate change.

The emergence of COVID-19 has also shown just how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be. By shrinking the area of natural habitat for animals, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronaviruses – to spread. Considering all these challenges, this World Environment Day focuses on the restoration of our ecosystem, with the theme “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.”

Only in a healthy ecosystem can we sustain people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change impacts and reduce the degradation of biodiversity. A recent German Watch Report of the Long-term Global Climate Risk Index 2020, a global think-tank working on climate change, had rated Pakistan number 8th most affected country due to adverse impacts of climate change. Community World Service Asia continues to encourage and build awareness on environment conservation with communities on the ground that are most affected by climate change and pollution.  We are continuing to invest in preservation, prevention and preparedness, together with the communities, as a necessary part of all systematic efforts to increase resilience to climate change and disaster risks and protect the environment.

Growing Sustainable Kitchen Gardens

Sustainable farming and kitchen gardening impacts everything from the air we breathe to the carbon footprints we leave behind. Community World Service Asia has been working with the most vulnerable, flood and drought affected rural communities by promoting sustainable agriculture among them to improve their food security, health and nutrition. These activities are allowing community members to sustain livelihoods, ensure good well-being and be an active part of preserving their environment.

Growing your own food allows you to stop relying solely on traditional methods of purchasing your produce from a grocery store. When you buy foods from these shops, you should take into consideration the sad, but true, fact that these foods travel several miles before ever being consumed. Not only does this impact the freshness and flavor of the food, but more importantly, this emits dangerous amounts of carbon emissions and waste associated with air freight and other transportation methods into the atmosphere. The concept of kitchen gardening is helping to reduce the high amounts of burning fossil fuels that fill our environment as a direct result of importing foods from commercial farmers. This initiative is also reducing waste from food packaging materials such as man-made plastics and cardboard, that also travel hundreds and thousands of miles. Women in Sindh feel safer and satisfied knowing what they are eating and what has gone into producing their food.

Under its Livelihoods portfolio, CWSA has conducted 291 workshops for more than five thousand people, a majority of these rural women, on kitchen gardening since 2015. Through these trainings, rural communities, especially women, have started growing kitchen gardens in their homes and have applied low-cost irrigation methods in their agrarian farming.

Introducing Eco-Friendly Farming

Most local communities in interior Sindh rely heavily on agriculture, but farmers in this region have struggled to cultivate bountiful harvests in the vicinity due to extreme water scarcity, harsh weather conditions and limited knowledge and resources on sustainable farming.

Under its food security projects, CWSA promotes sustainable farming and agri-based enterprises and provides continuous technical support and guidance on business development to rural farmers to enable them to achieve high quality agricultural produce. To further strengthen the skills and expertise of these agrarian communities, CWSA facilitated six exposure visits of 476 farmers, including men and women from twenty-five villages, to renowned agricultural research institutes in Sindh. During these visits, the community members observed multiple ongoing researches and agricultural activities. Some of these included kitchen gardening activities using drip irrigation systems, pitcher gardening schemes, solar desalination units and hydroponic cultivation systems. They were also familiarised with the use of bio fertilisers as one of the most important components of integrated nutrient management, being cost effective as well as being a renewable source of nutrients to supplement chemical fertilisers.

Through workshops on sustainable farming, 13,125 farmers, more than 50% women, from ninety villages in Sindh have been trained on sustainable agriculture. Communities have learned about crop production sustainability and productivity in changing climatic conditions. Most of these trainings focused on increasing productivity in agriculture and the level of economic prosperity among target communities while working on resource and environment conservation.

Improving ecosystems by restoring natural balance

Afforestation is key to sustaining the ecosystem and accelerating socio-economic development. Trees have remained a main contributor for sustaining resources including food, fiber, livelihood resources and water. Community World Service Asia has launched aeroculture[1] campaigns with farming communities in Sindh. These campaigns have promoted and enhanced biodiversity and mitigated adverse impacts of climate change in the areas that we work. One of the more long-term outcomes of the campaigns has been to provide an alternative livelihood source to water-deprived farming communities in the area. Tree Plantation activities have strengthened peoples’ bond with nature and helped purify the environment.

A variety of fruit and plant saplings such as Sapota, Lemon, Azarirachta indica (neem), Moringa, Falsa, Jujube and Guava, have been distributed among 690 targeted agrarian families of Badin and Umerkot. As many as 34,192 samplings were given out during the campaign that chanted the slogan Let’s make a promise to grow more trees.”

Ensuring human wellbeing and environmental health through Fuel-Efficient Stoves

To reduce smoke emissions and decrease deforestation, CWSA, under its Climate Action and Risk Reduction portfolio, is training women on effectively using and adopting a new technology of fuel-efficient stoves in their homes. The fuel-efficient stove is an energy system that has a positive impact on the ecosystem while providing basic cooking needs. The stoves are made of mud and straw enabling caretakers in the house to cook on two burners simultaneously while being able to control the flame at a required temperature. As a result, it reduces smoke emission and fuelwood consumption. A total of forty-seven trainings have been conducted by women community mobilizers for almost a thousand rural women on the use of the stoves and raising awareness among them on its environment-friendly nature. A cleaner environment and reduction in kitchen expenses has been seen as a direct impact of these trainings. More than three thousand stoves have been effectively installed in 2002 households in 16 villages of Umerkot district of Sindh province since 2019.

Ecosystem restoration can take many forms: Growing trees, making cities greener, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts. This is the generation that can make peace with nature so let us all join hands to play an active role in Reimagining, Recreating & Restoring our precious ecosystem.


[1] A method of growing plants without soil by suspending them above sprays that constantly moisten the roots with water and nutrients.

Pakistani farmers have been struggling to combat the worst locust plague to hit the country in nearly three decades. Large parts of the country were hit by severe locust infestations since June 2019, with insect swarms decimating entire harvests in the country’s agricultural heartlands, leaving food prices soaring and many farming communities’ food insecure. On February 1st 2020, tackling the insects was declared as a national emergency as a large scale of crop land was destroyed in the country’s most fertile Punjab province.

Heavy rains and cyclones sparked “unprecedented” breeding and led to an 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 neighboring countries, such as Iran. Locust swarms from southern Iran started migrating to Pakistan from the Iran-Baluchistan border. These locust swarms have since laid hundreds of thousands of pods which are likely to hatch as soon as they get a favorable environment. Local farmers feared their new batch of kharif seasonal crops would also be devoured by the locusts.

To mitigate further impact of the locust attacks on local small-scale farmers, Community World Service Asia (CWSA) in partnership with CWS Japan and Japan Platform (JPF) launched a project to assisted 1,600 farmer families with provision of cash grants for the tilling process in their lands. Under the project, 16,193 hectares (40,013 acres) of land has been cleared from locust eggs through introducing the tilling method to farmers in district Umerkot.

Tilling/ploughing is a renowned process used and adopted around the world to eradicate locust swarms. This process involves the ploughing of the infected land to a certain, carefully calculated depth and exposing the locust eggs to sunlight, which effectively destroys them.

“Community World Service Asia have been very supportive in Government’s effort to eradicate locust swarms by introducing innovative ideas that are much helpful for the communities. The trainings provided to the local farmers on Integrated Crop Management have made the communities resilient and have allowed them to mitigate the risks caused by the locust invasion,” shared Ayaz Kachelo, Agriculture O at the Agriculture Extension Department, Umerkot.

Through the project, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan has also been provided with 58,508 liters of Lambda Cyhalothrine insecticides to use for chemical application on the mature/adult locust swarms. The local farmers have also been further trained on Integrated Crop Management (ICM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques as part of the assistance. Since the tilling, use of chemical insecticides and the application of new farming techniques in the area no locust swarms have been seen. The farmers in the area have in fact also been able to cultivate their lands in time due to the effective tilling process.

“We were introduced to new techniques to eradicate locust swarms from our fields, such as digging trenches in the agricultural area. We have also been supported by the project teams in tilling/ploughing of our lands. The existing locust eggs on our lands were destroyed in the process. Our lands have finally been cleared from locust eggs, eradicating any future threat to our crops, and ensuring that the lands are ready for the next cropping season,” shared Nago, a sixty-year old local farmer from Nagho bheel village in Umerkot.

Sodho is the President of the Village Management Committee and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Committee of Male Jo Par Village in Umerkot, Pakistan. He has actively been working to promote sustainable farming practices and build community awareness on DRR to enhance community resilience on recurrent hazards and climate change impacts. The Village Management and the DRR Committees[1] were established in September 2020 under Community World Service Asia’s emergency response project[2], supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.

“I have coordinated and helped the project team conduct 19 trainings focused on kitchen gardening, fuel efficient stoves, sustainable agricultural practices and DRR since last year. It is a relief to see that our people have the knowledge and skills to protect themselves from natural hazards.”

On September 24th, 2020, an orientation for VMC members was organised to share project objectives and to familiarise members with the role of the committee and as individual members.

“All 15 members, seven women and eight men, were explained their responsibilities as VMC members. We were taught on how and when to coordinate with the project team and how we can contribute in organising project activities. By the end of the training I was also elected as the President of the committee.” 

Sodho, along with fifteen other community members, participated in a training on DRR held in October 2020. All training participants shared and learned about common natural and man-made hazards such as earthquakes, floods and fire, experienced in the region.

“The knowledge on DRR was new to the community members. They now know of and are well aware of the different disasters that their people are faced with and have identified ways of alleviating and lessening its effects. Through the training, communities were provided technical knowledge on all kinds of hazards, developing disaster prevention plans and the importance and methods of raising community awareness on DRR.”

Sodho shared a recent accident where a fire broke out at a house in a nearby village. The family was saved but they suffered a massive loss as all their essential belongings and household items were burnt.

“As an active member of the VMC, I immediately called for a meeting to discuss how we can collect donations and help the family recover from the loss. We were able to collect some clothes, food items and essential household items for the family. Through the immediate help, the family found some relief and were hopeful to recover from the monetary and infrastructural loss sooner.”

“VMC members also organised a lesson learning session for their local communities on what they had learned at the DRR training to further enhance community knowledge and capacity on preparedness and mitigation. To overcome natural and man-made disasters, the participants were told about the different disasters and how to minimize the destruction they bring to affected areas. We also shared the story of the house-fire as an example and conducted drills to show what items to save first in the case of a fire and how to prevent the damage caused by such disasters.”

Kitchen gardening, primarily engaging women in the target villages, is another key component of the project. Sodho was personally quite interested in this initiative as having an opportunity to grow healthy vegetables at home seemed like a blessing and was a new concept introduced in the village.

“I saw the benefits of kitchen gardening immediately when the team shared the concept. Growing healthy vegetables at home can bring good health to families and save money as well which was otherwise mostly consumed on purchasing vegetables from the market.”

“I encouraged all women in the village including my own wife to participate in the kitchen gardening trainings. In the last winter season, my wife grew white radish, carrots, spinach, lady fingers and pumpkin in her new kitchen garden. I could see how much she enjoyed working and bringing seeds of different vegetables and fruits from the market to grow in her garden. She is now growing watermelon, guar[3], pumpkins, bottle gourd and lady fingers.”

Sodho further added that their village, Male Jo Par, has existed for the past hundred years and in these many years no-one had ever thought of starting kitchen gardening.

“We reside in the remote areas of Umerkot. The agriculture fields are faced by severe water scarcity. The land has low productivity due to unfertile soil and lack of water. We never thought of growing vegetables in our homes so conveniently with the help of home-made fertilisers and compost. Today, families in Male Jo Par grow garden-fresh vegetables on a daily basis, improving the quality and quantity of their food consumption, nutrition and well-being.”

Sodho also participated in a training session focused on sustainable agricultural practices for farmers, conducted in December 2020 under the project. Ten other small-scale farmers took part in this training.

“Before we took the training, all of us farmers stocked all seeds together in plastic containers and could not differentiate good ones from the bad ones. We would plough the land and sow all the seeds. Consequently, not all crops would grow well. The money that we spent ploughing and harvesting the land would be wasted as the produce would not be as fruitful as expected. This year was different. We stocked the seeds in Stoneware Pots (Matka) and before sowing them, we dried the seeds for at least three days under the sun. As a result, we had a good harvest this year.”

Our village has seen a positive change since the initiation of the DRR project. There has always been severe water scarcity in our area. The RO plant[4], which is being constructed in our village, will also help our people and those of surrounding villages to a great extent. It will provide clean drinking water at a walking distance. Our wives and daughters will not have to travel far places to collect water.”


[1] These are community based structures, members consisting of community people, who are responsible to coordinate project activities and awareness building. They are the key for sustainability and viability of project activities and mobilization of available local resource.

[2] Enhancing disaster resilience against droughts in Sindh Province

[3] Guar is an important legume crop. It is cultivated for fodder as well as for grain purpose.

[4] A reverse osmosis plant is a manufacturing plant where the process of reverse osmosis takes place. Reverse osmosis is a common process to purify or desalinate contaminated water by forcing water through a membrane.

A depression formed due to strong convective clouds over the south east of the Arabian Sea intensified into a severe cyclone storm named Cyclone TAUKTAE on May 15th. Centered at a distance of approximately 1640 km south-southeast of Karachi, the cyclone posed a potential catastrophic threat to parts of India and Pakistan. On May 16th however, the Pakistan Meteorological Department reported that the cyclone will not make a landfall along Pakistan’s coastal belt and has in fact further intensified into a Very Severe Cyclone Storm (VSCS), centering at a distance of 1210 km south-southeast of Karachi. Latest reports suggest that even though the storm will not directly hit Pakistan, widespread rains, dust/thunderstorms with heavy to very heavy falls and gusty winds of 70-90Km/h are likely to occur in Thatta, Badin, Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar and Umerkot districts of Sindh province in Pakistan from May 17th to 20th May 2021. The same weather conditions are likely to impact Karachi, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Shaheed Bainazirabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Dadu districts from May 18th till May 20th.

The Government of Sindh has declared an emergency in all districts located at the coastal belt of the province. It has ordered to remove all bill boards in the area, cleared choking points of storm water drains and restricted fishermen from going into the sea or rivers until May 20th as part of preparatory measures.

Expected heavy rains in the mentioned districts may be life threatening, causing floods, severe damage to property and infrastructure and could leave affected-communities in need of Shelter, Food, NFIs[1] and WASH support.

Community World Service Asia Response:

Community World Service Asia is closely monitoring the situation. Its emergency response team is in close coordination and contact with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Sindh and other relevant district offices of the Deputy Commissioners. The teams are on standby and will start relief operations immediately if required.

Contacts:

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

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 35865338

Sources:
www.pmd.gov.pk
www.tribune.com.pk


[1] Non-Food Items

“Four years ago, my husband died of a heart attack. Since then, I have been supporting my family and trying to make ends meet. My embroidery and sewing skills help me earn PKR 700 a week (Approx. USD 4), and that is only when we receive regular orders. This is the only source of income for my three children and me,” shared Jatni.

Thirty-five-year-old Jatni and her three young children live in Ramsar village located in district Umerkot of Sindh (Pakistan), where they own a small piece of land and two goats. Jatni and her husband used their four acres of land next to their village to grow Guar[1] and Mung[2] on. After her husband’s passing away, Jatni continued with the farming activities on the land when she would be free from her hand-crafting work. She would sell the surplus produce to earn some extra income for her family. However, this year, despite being free from her handicrafts work since she barely received any orders due to COVID-19, Jatni was unable to grow any crop on her farming land due to locust infestations.

Since June 2019, the locust outbreak has been impacting eastern Pakistan. A plague of locusts hit Pakistan in February 2020, devouring crops, trees, and pasture as they moved through vast agricultural lands in Sindh and Punjab. According to the National Disaster Management Authority, 61 districts across the country are under attack from locusts, which have been damaging food crops. Pakistan incurred losses estimated to £2bn in winter crops, such as wheat, and is further expected to suffer another £2.3bn in the summer crops being planted now, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in May 2020.

“The situation in Ramsar was worrisome. All the villagers were in a difficult situation because of the devastation the locusts had brought to agricultural production. Our food security was badly affected as the large swarms moved through the lands.”

Ramsar’s village committee, in collaboration with Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) emergency team, selected Jatni as a cash grant recipient of PKR 13500 (Approx. USD 84) under an emergency response project supported by Japan Platform.  The project aimed to help 1600 locust affected farming families recover through cash assistance for livelihoods and provision of insecticides to fight off the locust swarms infecting their lands. Additionally, pesticides was provided to the National Disaster Management Authority in June 2020 for locust control. In Umerkot district, 867 hectare of lands were applied with the provided pesticides by Agriculture Department, protecting crops from locusts, pests, diseases and weeds as well as raising productivity per hectare.

Jatni used the cash received under the project in the tillage operation conducted to recover from the locust attacks.

“The tillage carried out in the last week of June helped me recover and prepare the land for cultivation. The land is now sowed with our usual Guar and Mung seeds. I am hopeful that we will have a substantial harvest by the end of the season to sell in the local market. The money I will earn from selling the surplus will help us purchase a variety of groceries that will last us a good six-months.”


[1] Guar is an important legume crop. It is cultivated for fodder as well as for grain purpose.
[2] The mung bean, alternatively known as the green gram, mash, or moong, is a plant species in the legume family.

Under the Enhancing disaster resilience against droughts in Sindh Province project, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan,[1]  eight Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) committees have been set up in eight villages, with fifteen members in each. Established in April 2019, the committees work towards strengthening the local community’s capacity to manage emergencies and collaborate with government agencies and relevant authorities to reduce risks during emergencies. These DRR committees play a pivotal role in facilitating the implementation and oversight of the project and to ensure community ownership and inclusion to maintain its long-term sustainability.

As physical interaction and implementation of any kind was not possible after the nation-wide lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country since March, Community World Service Asia’s DRR team got in touch with the members of the committees through mobile phones. Together they discussed ways of raising community awareness on COVID-19 symptoms and how to stay safe from it. Upon agreement, training sessions with the DRR committees were planned and conducted in April 2020.

Haji Chanesar village in Umerkot district was one of the selected areas and five members of its DRR Committee were part of the remote training session. They were informed about what communities should be doing to be prepared to respond to a case, how to identify a case once it occurs, and how to properly implement the preventive measures to ensure there is no further transmission of the virus.

Prem, 28, is married and a father to three children. After completing his intermediate, he was engaged in different volunteer work as he had grave interest in helping others. As a member of the DRR Committee, he looks after and operates the RO plant established in the village and also supports in the implementation of the project activities. Prem, who is an active member of the DRR Committee of Haji Chanesar village was one of the participants in this training.

The trained members of the committee then replicated the learnings separately in a number of neighbouring villages. Over two hundred local community members were introduced to information on COVID-19 and learnt basic hygiene measures to protect against the infection. By the end of these awareness sessions, communities were able to identify basic symptoms of coronavirus, common transmission channels, how to assess the risk of infection and key preventive measures.

An isolation room was established in Haji Chanesar, in case anyone is infected or is suspicious of being infected. The sessions alerted the villagers and they followed all SOPs[2] strictly especially at homes.

“In my home, none of my children go out to play nor does my wife socialize with her friends or family. We have limited our external activities, and we only go out when food or important household commodities need to be purchased. We have been fortunate till date as no case of coronavirus has come up. To prevent the spread of the virus in our area, we remain secure at home and maintain physical distance,” Prem concluded positively.


[1] Disaster Risk Reduction
[2] Standard of Procedures

Iqbal Mai, is a widow and a single mother of three children who lives in and belongs to Bait village of Punjab province. Bait village is home to almost a hundred families who primarily depend on farming activities for a livelihood. Iqbal Mai’s children, aged between 18 and 12 years, help her with sowing, harvesting, fertilisation and irrigation activities in the agricultural fields.

Mai’s husband was also a farmer who tragically passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest in 2014.

“After the demise of my husband, I had to take all the responsibility of caring for my children and home. The tragedy that was my husband’s death however did not lessen my hopes and determination of giving a better future to my children. I started to work on the fields; ploughing the lands, sowing the seeds, irrigating the lands and harvesting the crops. I strongly believe that literacy is critical to having a chance of a better future. I see it as something that will guide my children towards a brighter future and an improved standard of living,” shared Iqbal Mai.

Fifty-seven-year-old Mai manages to send her all children to a nearby local school through the income she has been earning from agricultural farming.

Through cultivation of wheat and cotton on a two-and-a-half-acre self-owned land, Mai earns an annual income of PKR 50,000 (Approx. USD 310). Cotton is assumed as one of the main cash crops in Punjab province which is the most Agri-enriched region of the country and contributes to 22% of the country’s total agri-business. The seasonal crops cultivated in Bait are irrigated with available canal channels and the river Chenab, which is a major source of water in the region.

To prepare the land for harvest season, Iqbal Mai took a loan of PKR 30,000 (Approx. USD 186) from a well-know landlord in their village. She took the loan to prepare the land to grow wheat.

“Last year, the wheat growing on the lands was severely damaged due to wheat leaf rustⁱ. I had no other option but to take a loan to prepare the land for the next harvest season. I rented a tractor for PKR 10,000 and also paid a tube well owner PKR 10,000 to provide water. The remaining amount was consumed on labor costs for ploughing the land. Sadly, all the harvest was lost.” The recent locust invasion on the agricultural lands in South Punjab destroyed acres of agricultural land including Iqbal Mai’s little livelihood source. “We tried all the indigenous techniques to get rid of the locusts such as waving rackets on the fields and using smoke to clear out the locusts, but nothing helped. All our hard work on the field was wasted in front of our eyes. We were unable to save our harvest and had no crops to sell.”

Community World Service Asia’s Emergency response team visited Bait village for an initial assessment to select the most vulnerable and underprivileged small-scale farmers affected by the locust attacks in the area for a short-term humanitarian project[1]. Iqbal Mai was selected as a project participant. Through the project she received two bags of 50 kgs of wheat seeds each, two bags of DAP fertilizer of 50kgs each and four bags of UREA fertilizer of 50kgs each. She plough the land with wheat seeds and is actively using the fertilizers to enhance the natural fertility of the soil.  Mai was also part of awareness raising, orientation and capacity enhancement sessions on learning skills and expertise about wheat cultivation techniques required to maximize yields in April and May 2020. Mai’s hopes are very high this year as she is positive to have rich and healthy crops at the end of harvest season in May 2021.


ⁱ Leaf rust, also known as brown rust, is caused by the fungus Puccinia triticina. This rust disease occurs wherever wheat, barley and other cereal crops are grown.

ⁱⁱ Livelihood Support to Small Agriculture Farmers affected by locust attack in the Punjab province project, implemented by Community World Service Asia and funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Chothay is a 26 year old mother of three who lives with her husband, Kapil and children in Haji Chanesar village of Umerkot.

“My husband teaches at a nearby private primary school. We also grow cotton and wheat as joint croppers on a 5-acre field close to our house. Together with my husband’s salary and our earnings from the field, we bring home an income of PKR 15,000/- (Approx. USD 91) every month.”

Most of Chothay and Kapil’s income is spent on household utilities and ensuring to provide three meals for their children. The couple’s elder daughter attends a private school in the locality for which they pay a monthly fee of PKR 1000/- (Approx. USD 6).

“We are used to cooking on conventional mud-made stoves, which have one burner that results in contiguous smoke emissions. This meant more fuel consumption and the fire was hard to manage. The intense fire also damaged cooking utensils and left dark stains on all our crockery and cutlery. With the fire being unmanageable due to high winds, there have been many cases of houses burning down or women’s hands being burned or lungs being affected due to spending long hours in the kitchen. It even took longer to cook the food,” explained Chothay.

Gathering wood for the fire was also a laborious job often shouldered by the women in the house.

“Most of us would have bruised hands and legs when we return from fetching firewood due to the difficulty in breaking the branches and shrubs from trees and bigger plants.” 

In October 2019, Community World Service Asia conducted a training on making and using fuel-efficient stoves for twenty-five women in Haji Chanesar. The participants of the training were taught how to construct the stoves and were sensitised on its health and environmental benefits, including reduction of smoke emissions and decreased deforestation with lesser wood consumption. These trained women then replicated the same training in more than five hundred households in over sixty villages in the last ten months.

“We witnessed multiple fire flaring-up incidents in Haji Chanesar in the months of May and June last year, resulting in burnt hands, depreciated kitchen utensils and increased air pollution due to the smoke. Whereas, ever since we have started using fuel-efficient stoves, such accidents have minimised. Lesser shrubs and branches are used and cut down now which has also resulted in increased forestry and greenery,” said Chothay.

Chothay and many housewives of rural Umerkot now consume less fuel to cook as compared to when using traditional stoves.

“We are now saving time as well as energy while cooking our meals. We are coughing less and cooking more all while using two burners simultaneously. It has also reduced health risks as we do not burn our hands and less smoke is generated. We are using lesser wood which has reduced deforestation in our area and we now see more greenery in our area which is refreshing.”

The United Nations World Health Organization (UNWHO) standards state that a country should have at least a twenty-five percent forest cover to help conserve ecosystems that provide for all living things and also works as a barrier against disasters[1]. Forests play an important role in helping species, people and countries adapt to climate change. Sindh lags behind in reaching this standard.

According to the latest Sindh Forest Department data, the forest cover in Sindh has reduced to an alarming level of less than two percent, forcing an estimated one million people in the province to migrate to other areas in the last 30 years.

To mitigate climate change impacts and help reduce deforestation rates in Sindh, Community World Service Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Japan, and partners, have initiated a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project in Umerkot district of the province. As one of the project’s interventions, 334 women from eight villages were trained on effectively using a new technology of fuel-efficient stoves in their homes. The fuel-efficient stove is an energy system that has a positive impact on the ecosystem while providing basic cooking needs. The stoves are made of mud and straw. It enables cooking simultaneously on two burners and the flame can be controlled as per temperature required. As a result, it allows for less emission of smoke and less consumption of fuelwood. Thirteen of these training were conducted by women community mobilizers that oriented rural women on the use of the stoves and made them aware of its environment-friendly nature.

The trainings enabled the women in the communities to help reduce health risks associated with smoke emissions that women and children often experience while cooking on traditional stoves made of firewood. Consequently, it has reduced incidents of household fire that were caused due to uncontrollable firewood flames.

Cleaner environments and being provided cheaper cooking sources has been seen as a direct impact of these training and the increased use of fuel-efficient stoves.  The adoption of these stoves has significantly increased in the area since the training. Other women in the communities have also requested for training and construction of these stoves.

The utensils turned black when we cooked on traditional stoves using firewood. The fuel stove is a remarkable tool which not only saves time and fuel, but it endows relief in cleaning utensils. Many women in the community are requesting me to construct the fuel-efficient stove in their households. We are grateful to be introduced to these remarkable stoves,

shared Saleemat from Mandhal Thakar Village in Umerkot.


[1] https://www.dawn.com/news/1402307

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