Monday, December 28, 2009

Pakistani Children volunteering for safe planet

Naila Zeb- Climate Project Connector shares exciting pictures of children who are volunteering for a safe planet.

Safe planet is the right of our children for their future. They have no other place to live in, except this planet which is under the severe impacts of global climate crisis. No matter, the impacts of climate change are visible and widely observed now, however children will be more impacted in coming years if immediate actions are not taken to control greenhouse gases emission and to protect our planet from global warming.

Pakistan Red Crescent Society celebrate International Volunteers Day in PRCS National Headquarter Islamabad (Pakistan). One of the exciting part of this celebration was the role of children from Army Public School Rawalpindi who are raising their voices for a safer planet. Children voices come with the slogan "Volunteering for our Planet". Of course it matters a lot! Thanks to PRCS Pakistan and their volunteers.

Climate Project Connectors is proud to have Naila Zeb, Muhammad Iqbal, Gohar and Amjad Ali as part of this campaign.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Connectors Spotlight- Saad Yousaf

Saad Yousaf is a young, experienced trainer in development sector. He lives in Abbottabad- a city of education, blessed with natural beauty in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Saad completed his studies in International Relations and also received gold medal in BCS. He has eleven years of diverse experience in the field of Advocacy, Social Mobilization, Good Governance, Alternate and Renewable Energy and Organizational Development. He has spent a lot of time in conducting research, assessment studies, strategic planning and projects designing. A most challenging but exciting job of his career was the baseline study that he successfully conducted in more than 700 villages of 4 different districts.

One of the achievements of Saad is development of automated software that organizes field data into an efficient and effective knowledge management and learning system. This software helps in presenting a large pool of data in organizational friendly manner with various analytical reports needed for all tiers of management and donors. This software is practiced by Sungi Development Foundation, which is a leading NGO of Pakistan. Saad has also experience of networking, liaison and reporting to number of donors including Oxfam Novib, UNDP, CIDA, Canadian Hunger Foundation, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Royal Norwegian Embassy etc. Saad has established his own consultancy firm “Alternate Solution” and has provided consultancy services to various development actors including bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors.

Saad has recently joined “Climate Project Connectors”- a voluntary campaign of dedicated volunteers in Pakistan, which strive to create awareness on catastrophe of Climate Change and seeking appropriate solutions. Saad was one of the participants in a national level Connectors Training Workshop, recently held in Mansehra (Pakistan). He is now a CONNECTOR of this campaign in Pakistan and contributing in global Climate Change campaign, led by The Climate Project- an organization founded by Al Gore (the ex-president of the US). As a Climate Project Connector, Saad has planned number of activities to create awareness on climate change in Pakistan. He recently established Future Concern, a CSO focusing on different issues, including climate change and global warming. Saad will be starting a research, community meetings and mass media campaign on climate crisis. His plans also include developing an annual climate change atlas using GIS techniques, aforestation and create models demonstrating green house gas emissions. Saad is looking forward to contribute his best efforts in helping communities and local organizations to deal with the challenges of climate crisis.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Connectors Spotlight- Naila Zeb

Naila Zeb belongs to the beautiful Northern Areas of Pakistan. Naila joined Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) as a volunteer and now she is working as Psycho-social Support Program Coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies (Pakistan Delegation). She did her internship at National Headquarter PRCS and won the 1st National Youth Camp best participant award. Naila also represented Pakistan as Youth reprehensive in Italy in June 2009. Currently Naila is working for the internally displaced persons of Swat conflict in NWFP. Naila likes reading books and enjoy her world with a circle of nice friends. She loves hiking, gardening and enjoys nature.

Naila joined Climate Project Connectors campaign in Pakistan, recently in October 2009 after attending The Climate Project (TCP) Australia’ Connectors Training Programme in Mansehra (Pakistan). Naila is now an active CONNECTOR of the campaign and dedicated to engage youth for creating awareness on climate change. She has started mobilizing her friends, family members and young volunteers of PRCS on clean environment. Naila is planning to train more then 100 volunteers at the upcoming National Youth Camp in February 2010 and want to contribute her due role for behavioural change among society members towards a safe environment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Climate Voices from the hill peaks!

It was a cold winter day when we reached village Khait Charbanda of District Mansehra (Northern Pakistan). Some 120 tenant families live here on hill slopes- 4000 feet above sea level.

The day was not so much cold even in the month of November. We were travelling ahead on jumpy non paved link road along with my other colleagues from World Vision Pakistan. Coming from Canada, Lindsey- our Support Office programme staff also accompanied us in this far flung area known for landslides.

Reaching the village, she was much interested to meet local females who were able to form their village organization a few months before on this hill top location.

Majority, including women and children are engaged in livestock raring and farming in small landholding mostly by leveling hill slopes to form small plots. Unaware about the happenings in rest of the world, more then 90% women and girls of this village are illiterate.

Lots of people, elderly, youth and children were gathered to welcome our team as usual with the known customs of their hospitality.

And my plan was to talk to the community about the changing weather patterns (some time very extreme and unexpected) like the flood of 1992 in the history of entire valley.

“Some 60 years before, we had a thick forest, said an elderly man sitting in the gathering. Wild animals used to live in those a snow bound uphill locations, but now those forests, wild animals, the peaks covered for many months have become an old story”

Did we ever realize why all these changes are happening and now so rapidly? I asked. And then their were voices coming from the gathering after a little silence;

“Because we have cut our forests and these soft soils of hills are not able to maintain their firmness to protect from landslides after heavy rains every year”

“It’s a will of God that we live here and we have to face all these difficulties”

“We are poor and we depend on forest for fuel and to construct our houses, we have no other sources expect these forests to depend on”

And did you ever realize we living in such remote areas are not all the time responsible for these natural disasters, however, we do accelerate them to come quicker and unexpected in our lives- my second question?

And the response was “We really don’t know”

I found this time perfect to explain to all these people being unaware about climate change- a reality which is often observed but not understood at all.

With my explanation about increasing temperature due to human activities every where, particularly in rich/industrial countries, lots of discussion was then happening. Very simple, if the temperature will increase, more ice will be melted, glaciers will be no more and we will be losing our water sources permanently. People of this village then come to know that beside their own activities like cutting precious forests and not doing enough plantations, there are regions in the word, in fact doing more damage to the environment in terms of industrial pollution, burning of fossil fuels, land use change and making the earth warm with the passage of every year.

No doubt, it was new information for those people that efforts are undergo to have an international agreement to control emission of greenhouse gases next month. However Climate Change is not waiting for any one. We in this region will be losing our safe drinking water sources, our monsoon and crops cultivating seasons will be changing, our gracious will be vanishing, we will be facing more dry seasons and changing precipitation, more diseases would be happening due to flooding and our children will be more at risk.

What can you do now? Would you be able to face again the same kind of devastating flood of 1992 in this area? What will you do when after thirty years or less, your children will be asking for safe drinking water and food? Did you ever think about the future generation asking about the irresponsibility of their forefathers? Would you ever try to organize your self more and reach your leaders and politician to advocate on changing climate consequences?

And why not to again assess the needs of coming twenty to thirty years and go to your local government representative for right time planning?.

With lots of silence on the faces on these people, I was hopeful that my questions will force them to discuss these with their families, when they go back to homes by evening and then in coming days with their friends, relatives and the representatives of local government and more. I know climate crisis is a big challenge and world need to support poor communities from its harsh consequences, but little things and self help cannot be ignored to make a BIG response gradually and finally. At least an unaware should be aware what is going to happen with them worse in coming time, if actions are not taken.

I was glad to hear some of the voices from the gathering;

“We have to think about the well being of our future generation, working today as a community organization, we have to work for the challenges of coming decades, we have to raise our voices”

The Climate Project Presenter

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2 °C vs. Humanity

My first ever Connectors training programme in Pakistan for NGOs professionals in Pakistan!!

Young professionals’ voice for world’ politicians!

With my every power point slide transition, the smiling faces of young professionals were turning into shocking expressions and often looking at each other with hidden questions in eyes. In a mix reaction of fears and love for humanity, silence turned into voices and every body wanted to know more…

“Oh what will happen to humanity?”

Temperature is increasing, disasters are happening. We really need strong political will for Copenhagen and actions without further delay.

What will happen to humanity if temperature goes above 2 °C. Extreme weather event are already happening around us today. If severe calamities will occur more frequently in future, this world will not be able to face the biggest challenge to humanity- Climate Change

Can we stop it? Can we live safe on this planet? 2030 or 2050 is not that much far when humanity will be in the time of more frequent and severe natural calamities. Should we vote for our politicians and leaders for their own political agenda or to vote for the agenda of humanity- Agenda for Climate Change?

2050 is not too far for humanity as Africa and South Asia will be more food insecure? What we are giving to our future generation in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Maldives, African and pacific nations?

If world has already crossed the figure of 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in atmosphere, will it be possible in current scenario to reduce it to 350ppm to avoid temperature go above 2 °C and to prevent all of us from extreme weathers?

Why don’t the major polluters look at the figures when Climate Change is already taking 300,000 lives every year now? Why don’t they realize that 20% more droughts will happen by 2030 if emission is not controlled now? What, if continuous global warming will result in 100 million people displacements for every meter sea level rise?

Of course we can’t afford wait longer. Looking at all these horrible scientific calculations and estimates of today and near future, world need to ACT now to prevent humanity from severe impacts of Climate Change.

What is more important? Technology or political will?? Of course the political will. Science and Technology is not an issue, it is available and it can be developed more.

These were some of the hot topics and points of consideration when young professional, representing National and International NGOs from different parts of Pakistan gathered in Saibaan training hall, Mansehra to become CONNECTORS and to play their effective role for awareness raising in communities and influencing policies of government and non government organizations to act on Climate Change.

While going through the Climate Change facts and figures in my presentation, these young professionals are now showing commitments for next two three months and ahead to take responsibilities of orienting more audiences/communities on Climate Change, talking with policy makers, NGOs managers and media. These young professionals are now also ready to take personal actions at the families and community level for awareness raising and behavioral change.

My mandate for the day was also to start a discussion among these young professionals after sharing the scientific information on Climate Change and its impact on humanity. We really got able to understand the causes and impacts and started realizing what can be done at personal and official level to avoid climate crises.

Our first responsibility is to take action by our own; we are here representing organizations with our wider networks and outreach in Pakistan, so let’s take this responsibility to reach people living in far flung areas and make them aware about Climate Change, said Sahibzada Jawad, Saibaan Development Organization.

Today we realize that we need to act. Our youth is our future. If we want to work for youth’ development then let’s engages them in Climate campaign as well. In this way, we can better make our community aware and raise a voice up to government and other organizational level, said Memona Choudery from UNDP.

We have to protect our natural resources, we have to conserve and develop our forests and we have to promote renewable energy opportunities. Belonging to leading NGOs in Pakistan, we have the responsibility to change our policies and strategies and start taking community level initiatives. We got to know more today that Copenhagen conference will be perhaps the last and best option to bring rich and poor nation close to each other and to support each other; said Abdul Majid from World Vision International- Pakistan.

We have a wider network of volunteers in different districts of Pakistan, We will be integrating Climate Change into our organization strategy and we will work for humanity. By this we can make realize our world leaders to act as well, said Amjad Ali from American Red Cross- Pakistan.

I think, it will be even too late till Copenhagen agreement, after what we saw today the rapidly growing line in the graph showing CO2 emission and increasing temperature. It is so horrible to see that an early and rapid action by 2010 would still allow temperature rise to average 2.8 °C by 2100, said Saad, from Alternate Solutions.

We today accept the truth that Climate Change is a big challenge of this century and it should be a priority focus of world leaders, but we as NGO professionals and humanitarian should take every possible step, even smaller at the family and community level, to avoid severe impacts of Climate Change, said Irum Gillani, from World Vision International- Pakistan.

Looking today on Pakistan situation we can not ignore realities. Our people are facing droughts, deforestation and flooding. Our coastal areas are becoming risky and our agriculture will be highly impacted by changing monsoon and weather condition. Our glaciers are melting and we are at risk of fresh water availability in future. What we need is to seriously think and act for Climate change mitigation and adaptation. We have to influence our organizations and our government, said Shabana from Action Aid Pakistan.

We have to take action on Climate Change if we want to ensure food security in poor countries like Pakistan, said Naheed from Sarhad Rural Support Programme.
And lots of other talks, realization and commitments...

Finally the time come I waited to see NGOs’ representatives signing a declaration showing their commitment, CONNECT to each other and take every possible step to contribute in the common objective of avoid Climate crises, pressurize officials and politicians and advocate with the world to keep the temperature below 2 °C.

I recall my memorable events in Asia-pacific summit in Melbourne last July 2009, when my heart and mind decided to connect people in Pakistan on Climate Change issue. I am pretty sure that these young professionals will now effectively contribute in this global campaign and conveying message to their audiences and make them aware to decide what they want and can afford because of Climate Change.

We all have to realize the sense of urgency and accept this big challenge of 21st century i.e. the
“2 °C vs. Humanity”

Big hands to representatives from National and International NGOs joining campaign “Climate Project Connectors” in Pakistan…

World Vision International-Pakistan, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), Action Aid International-Pakistan, Haashar Association Mansehra, Alternate Solutions, International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS), American Red Cross, SPEED, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), Pakistan Hoslamand Khawateen Network (PHKN) and Saibaan Development Organization Mansehra (hosting the event)

The Climate Project Presenter

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Climate Change, Pakistan and Road to Copenhagen

Climate Change is affecting Pakistan with temperature increase, change in monsoon rain patterns and melting of glaciers in the northern areas. From 1992-2005, the country experienced 11 extreme events with the 2005 earthquake (and consequent land sliding and flash floods) in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Pakistan, along with other UN member countries will be gathering in December climate change conference in Copenhagen. It will be a political tipping point. We will not have the time to create another political tipping point after that.

Why is Copenhagen so impor¬tant? Simply, we have to talk to major polluters to start re¬ducing greenhouse gases globally by around 2015. If we can do that, we can limit a temperature rise to about 2°C. Our government has to talk to those rich countries at Copenhagen and to reach a justified international agreement, otherwise we go over 2°C glo¬bal warming and will be more affected.

In Pakistan, majority of the population is unaware about Climate Change science and particularly the role and ground work of our government for upcoming Copenhagen talk. We need to know what our government is going to decide about our fate with international community.

To start the turn around by 2015, we need a new international agreement up and running by that date. For the Kyoto Protocol will run out in 2012.

The world decided at the 2007 Bali climate change conference that a post-Kyoto agreement will be delivered at Copenhagen. As someone said, it's our last best chance.

The industrial countries need to set GHG reduc¬tion targets and commit to miti¬gating the effects of climate change. Secondly, developed countries have to help deve¬loping countries by opening up access to the finance and technol¬ogy to fight cli¬mate change and adapt to its ef¬fects.

More severe incident will happen if global warm¬ing goes over 2°C.
In Pakistan melting glaciers, decreasing freshwater availability, flooding from rivers, pressure on natural resources and environment and rise in endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrheal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are some of the real example.

Climate Change impacts are globally visible. The Greenland ice sheet and Arctic Sea ice disintegrate over the next few hundred years. That means a 2.7m sea rise. If the West Antarctic ice sheet starts to come apart as well, the sea le¬vel rise swells to more than 5m.

But it is do-able. We can meet the climate change challenge and not bankrupt our lifestyle. Al Gore said we have enough technology to solve three climate crises, and we only have to solve one.

A young delegate from Papua New Guinea famously stole the show at the 2007 Bali climate change conference. He put it directly to the US delegate to either lead or follow. If neither, then just get out of the way.

The Asia-Pacific Summit on Climate Change in Melbourne was a milestone in July 2009 to gather people of diverse culture from 19 countries, including Pakistan to raise a common voice and to advocate with governments to take action now.

Following the summit, my campaign in Pakistan “Climate Project Connectors” is engaging local communities, media, NGOs and government authorities to create mass awareness on climate change challenges and demand for actions. This is also important for us as less then 100 days to go Copenhagen.

If you want to become a Connector and work with other Pakistani’s to make sure the nation’s voice is heard at Copenhagen go to or email Asif Iqbal on

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recalling 8th October 2005- 4th anniversary of devastating earthquake of Pakistan

Today in District Mansehra, communities of Mansehra (Pakistan) together with the local government, national and international NGOs activists and students observed the 4th anniversary of devastating earthquake that occurred on 8th October 2005, killing more then 73, 000 innocent people and more then 2 million homeless. This joint memorial recalled the memories of biggest natural disaster in the history of Pakistan when people lost their loved family members, friends and villages as the earthquake with 7.6 magnitudes on rector scale jolted the northern parts of NWFP.

The today’s memorial event showed the great resilience of Pakistani people who had started recovering from the psychological impacts of the earthquake even within the first year of disaster. Although the human and infrastructure loses were a lot but the people of this earthquake affected region are now coming back to life and staying committed to face the miseries due to this natural disaster. Today’s event was a mix of sad moments, emotions and feelings but the most significant aspect was the courage and determination on people’ faces showing them highly resilient and ambitious to help their people in case of such emergencies in future. They remembered their loved one, performed different activities together with different organizations like displaying stalls, speaking about their new skills and abilities, search and rescue exercise, puppet show, children games, speeches etc.

International community together with the support of Pakistan Army, local communities and organizations played a tremendous job after the 2005 earthquake in reaching affected people within hours and helping those in a situation when they had lost every thing in their lives, their loved ones and their homes.

No doubt the earthquake of 2005 put a visible impact on the lives of communities living in this region by lose of bread earners, sources of livelihoods, lots of disabilities and trauma, but with the passage of time, all miseries and difficulties started turning into recoveries and new life. With limited resources, capacities and on going rehabilitation and development work in earthquake affected areas, still there are issues like people living in shelters, existence of major fault lines and a fear of another earthquake, children without school buildings, communities without health facilities, limited income resources and many more. But the faces of people today showed that they want to keep a hope and they are determined despite of many difficulties in their lives.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Conserving and protecting forests to combat climate crises

Global climate change is affecting Pakistan with an expected temperature increase higher than the global average, change in monsoon rain patterns and melting of glaciers in the northern areas. From 1992-2005, the country experienced 11 extreme events with the 2005 earthquake (and consequent land sliding and flash floods) in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) killing more than 70,000 people. Pakistan has total area of 880,000 km2 having irregular, elongated, polygon that extends through 13.4 of latitude from 23.6N to 37.0N. Geo-morphological diversity within Pakistan has given rise to a wide range of ecological conditions . According to the 4th assessment report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the impacts of climate change in Pakistan (South Asia) are decrease in freshwater availability, flooding from rivers, pressure on natural resources and environment and rise in endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrheal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts. Scientific studies show that global climate variability is happening due to emission of greenhouse gases, particularly the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in atmosphere which has grown 80% annually between the periods of 1970 to 2004 . Forests play a vital role in sequestration of CO2, conservation of environment and reducing the impacts of climate change. The forests in District Mansehra, including of Siran valley are the major watershed and forest resources of the country. Pakistan has only 4.7% of its land under the forest cover. This meagre forest resource is insufficient to meet the demand of the country’s population.

Siran Valley with the total population of 146, 000 inhabitants is located in the seismic zone Swat-Aster (SASZ), having maximum height of 2260 m and minimum height 1340 m at sea level. The climate is humid subtropical continental highland type. Characterized by soft geological surface and steep slopes, Siran Valley is amongst the most vulnerable to natural disasters, having faced numerous unexpected disasters due to climate variability. Almost 100% of the Siran population is dependent on forest wood for fuel and cooking, keeping houses warm during winter and houses reconstruction, particularly after the earthquake of 2005 which almost doubled the use of forest wood for reconstruction of houses . Of the total area, 27% (or 26,108 has.) of Siran Valley is covered with forest, 44% (or 44, 092 has.) agricultural land and 28% (or 26, 498 has.) range land . According to the GTZ reports, more then 45% of the existing forests of Siran valley was depleted in only a short span of 10 years (from 1979 to 1988). The recent FGD with local communities in Siran valley show even the worse condition of deforestation i.e. 80% depletion of precious forest resources during the last 40 years . Communities have observed rise in temperature, decreasing snowfall and water sources and increasing incidents of natural disasters within the target areas and surroundings. Loss in these natural resource assets is demonstrated in the fact that in the whole country, wood biomass is declining at a rate of 4-6% per year and this is the second highest declining rate in the world .

Alarming deforestation in Siran valley has put the lives and livelihoods of entire valley on high risk and more vulnerable to climate variability. About 90% of the population belong to poor and below categories that have agriculture and livestock as main source of livelihoods. Along with huge deforestation, grazing and farming in risky hilly location has made this area vulnerable to landslides and flash floods . Besides the incidents of landslides and flash floods that happen every year, the area experienced mega flooding in 1992 resulted in loss of agricultural lands, crops and livestock. In 2000 a flash flood swept away the entire Dadar village while in 2006 flash floods in Jabori, 10 people were killed. The on-going deforestation has exuberated in environmental degradation, increasing soil erosion and siltation in dams. While the capacity of target area population to thrive and develop competence and resilience has been threatened. The Government of NWFP Forest policy 2002 emphasise on conservation of these precious natural resources and participation of local community in sustainable management of forests for community wellbeing. While the establishment of Clean Development Mechanism under the Ministry of Environment encourages participation of private sector in improving communities livelihoods through integrating environmental protection into economic well being. The Government of Pakistan, private sector and local communities should seriously think and take action to conserve and protect their precious forests to combat global climate crises and to work for the well being of local communities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Join me in my campaign "Climate Project Connectors"

Hi friends,

I have recently started my campaign “Climate Project Connectors” in Pakistan to raise awareness, sensitize stakeholders and strengthen voices through making connectors for advocacy and finding solutions to dangerous climate change. You might be knowing that CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted as a result of huge deforestation, increasing industrial and transportation pollution, use of fossil fuel and other human activities are creating global warming that lead to natural disasters every years. It is impacting human lives and their livelihoods through flooding, landslides, droughts, reduced water sources and crops production, cyclone, fire, increasing sea level etc.

In my campaign “Climate Project Connectors” I will be working with local communities, government authorities/institutes, media, social workers/NGOs, friends and colleagues on this serious issue. I will be delivering presentations on Climate Change to different stakeholders and talking to media for broader awareness raising and connecting voices to combat the global climate crisis.

I represented Pakistan in Asia-Pacific Summit on Climate Change in Melbourne last month July 2009, organized by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and The Climate Project (TCP). Now being the official presenter of Al Gore’ global climate change campaign, I have started my efforts in Pakistan. I strongly believe that by connecting each other, we can really make a difference. So let’s join my campaign, let’s connect and get ready act now.

Asif Iqbal | Program Officer | World Vision Pakistan | |
Mobile: +92 331 9294439 & +92 344 588 8820 |
Office: +92 997 206235 |
E-mail: & | Skype: asifiqbal123 |

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Climate Project Connectors" campaign getting strength as new connectors join me from World Vision Pakistan- Balakot office

I have decided to start my campaign Climate Project Connectors” in Pakistan which is actually a part of Al Gore Climate Change campaign that I got connected during the Asia-Pacific Summit on Climate Change in Melbourne-July 2009. As I come back to Pakistan after my participation in the summit on Climate Change, I continued discussion with my colleagues and friends about my learning on climate change, the new happening in the light of new studies and scientific knowledge. I was so happy to see the growing interest of my colleagues working in World Vision Pakistan field offices. And then I formally received an invitation from our field office Balakot staff to deliver a presentation on Climate Change and this was the exciting reason that I spent my beautiful day with my colleague in Balakot office on July 31, 2009. I made my twenty new connectors from Balakot office. It was really encouraging to me as I saw every one keen to listen and know about Climate Change even if he was the Area Development Manager or our field staff working with local communities in Balakot.

Balakot is one of the

sub divisions of District Mansehra,

located at a distance of 40 kilometer from Mansehra city. It is a one of the famous tourist spot covered with lush green hilly areas and beautiful forests giving it a heart touching natural beautify. It is actually a base camp to the famous Naran Lake and other beautiful areas like Shogran. The area is particularly famous for snow bound hilly locations and number of natural streams. The famous Kunhar River is simply a sign of charm in the whole sub division. Due to large quantity of water resource and the geography, the area has a lot of potential for renewable energies, particularly hydro power generation. Unfortunately, this beautiful area is prone to number of natural disasters like flashflood, landslides and earthquake. During the 2005 earthquake, the whole Balakot city was destroyed. The government of Pakistan has declared one of its parts as RED ZONE because of major fault lines existing here.

Total of twenty staff member working in World Vision Pakistan (Kaghan Area Integrated Programme) participated in the presentation on Climate Change. The participants include Area Development Manager, Programme Officer, Advocacy Officer, Monitoring & Evaluation Officer, Project Coordinators, Community Project Officers, Commodities officer, Engineers, Finance Officer and IT staff. My presentation covered the basic science of Climate Change, its causes and effects globally. We also looked at its impacts over Pakistan as well as in sub division Balakot. We discussed about the cause of global warming, emission of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2 and the growing human activities i.e. deforestation in rural areas like in northern Pakistan and urbanization, industrialization, increasing transportation, use of fossil fuel etc. The presentation mainly focused on the element of sense of realization and urgency about the Climate Change and its effects and the role of community, particularly the NGO workers in awareness raising and advocating with relevant stakeholders/government on this dangerous crisis.

We discussed about the importance of self initiatives, even the small, to contribute in such a big issue of climate change that has caught the whole planet in terms of increasing natural calamities every year. We talked about the human activities going on in our area like deforestation that has negatively impacted the environment of this green area and has been contributing a lot in terms of landslides and flashfloods. Staff had the observations like increasing temperature of the area, decreasing level of snowfall and changing weather of monsoon. The World Vision staff already working under the Kaghan Area Integrated Programme in community driven initiatives project, adult education, natural resource management and advocacy activities come up with number of commitments regarding their personal initiatives as well as integrating climate change into the existing programme for community well being. The personal commitments were of high importance in order to create awareness among friends, families and communities about Climate Change, the CO2 and its causes and impacts. I would like to share the commitments that the staff shared after the presentation that are really encouraging;

I will incorporate environmental protection policy in all upcoming projects implementing in Kaghan Area Integrated Programme. I will personally do plantation every year.

Ghulam Mustafa, Areas Development Manager

I, together with youth of my village committee, will start a plantation campaign and will work on creating awareness on climate change during different social events

Ms. Farzana, Project Coordinator

I am part of this campaign. Being a programme officer, I am committed to work and introduce hydro power projects, plantation along with other infrastructure schemes as well as agro forestry in our target areas. I am working to develop proposal on environmental protection while in personal capacity I am doing plantation in my own land which is 2000 plants every year.

Abdul Majid, Programme Officer

I will play my role as Advocacy Officer to sensitize both community and government officials on Climate Change.

Jamshed Ahmad, Advocacy Officer

I will plan an orientation session on climate change with school children in village Reen, Balakot.

Ms. Huma, Community Project Officer

I will be doing more plantations in our agricultural land.

Jawad Ahmad, IT Officer

I will be creating awareness among the local community with whom I work and I will mobilize them for plantation in their lands.

Ms. Najida Farid, Community Project Officer

I show my full commitment to advocate on climate change issue at organization and external level. I will work on sharing information and policies on environmental protection among friends and colleagues for broader awareness.

Raja Hasrat, Advocate, Monitoring & Evaluation Officer

I will share the information on Climate Change with my communities and I will also plant 100 trees.

Babar Jamil, Community Project Officer

I will do more research on this issue and will promote organic farming

Masood, Community Grants Coordinator

I will not only start plantation by my self but also will mobilize the local communities on this campaign.

Ms. Sadia Amber, Master Trainer

I will contribute in this campaign regarding climate change through sharing information and awareness raising

Tanveer Iqbal, Community Project Officer

I will start plantation in my home town and will help my communities to do it in their own villages.

Asghar Khan, Community Project Officer

I will play my role in this campaign and will contribute through doing plantation

Sultan Khan, Field Coordinator

I will plant 1000 trees and distribute about 5000 plants free of cost to local communities

Zubair Shah, Community Project Officer

I will do plantation and also motivate others to do so.

Raja Imran, Engineer

I will do awareness raising and will work on less use of papers to contribute in environmental safety.

Muhammad Salim, Community Grants Coordinator

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My first presentation in Pakistan on "Climate Change" after the Asia-Pacific summit in Melbourne

“We working together will strengthen our voice to the extent where we are able to strongly pressurize our government to take affirmative action on climate crises and ensure protection to citizen’s lives and livelihoods”. These words from my first group of connectors will always give me energy to continue my campaign in Pakistan on climate change issue.

I was so excited when I finally started my campaign in Pakistan on global climate crises by having my first presentation on July 24, 2009 on climate change after my participation in Asia-Pacific summit in Melbourne. I started my presentation with one of my audiences as per my commitment during the AP summit i.e. my own colleagues working with me in World Vision Pakistan (Siran Valley). While working on the presentation, I recalled the message of Al Gore who said during the AP summit we can do it together and we have to do it now”. And after the wonderful inspiration from Melbourne summit, I took it as a personal and moral obligation to start my campaign on the issue of climate change and advocate with number of stakeholders for the need of action to be taken on this crises which has put the lives and livelihoods of present and future generation and our only planet at greater risk.

My first group of audience was colleagues from different sections of our field office based in Siran valley of District Mansehra, Northern Pakistan. They were males and females from programme staff, Monitoring & Evaluation, field staff/community mobilizers, engineer, staff from Information Technology (IT) and finance section as well as other support staff i.e. a driver and an office boy. While sitting together and sharing knowledge and issues, we simply forgot who is a project coordinator and who is an office boy but we all had one thing in mind that we all are having equal responsibility to take this issue as serious as it is and we by working together strengthen our power to take ranges of actions starting from self and family up to our own linkages with different government authorities.

During the presentation, we discussed about the climate change theme, its causes and effects in Pakistan and all around the world, while using the Al Gore presentation material on global climate crises. The presentation covered the science of climate change, global warming and concentration of greenhouse gases in atmosphere. Using the slideshow and multi media facility, a thorough discussion was made on causes of environmental pollution by industrialization, use of fossil fuel, agriculture/land use, deforestation/use of forest word in construction, as fuel and illegal wood cutting, increasing transportation, urbanization, and number of other human activities. Presentation also covered contribution of different countries in emission of greenhouse gases and consequences of these emission in terms of increasing temperature/global warming, increasing number of natural disasters, increasing sea level, human and livelihoods loses and increasing poverty, vanishing bio-diversity, changing weather pattern like changing in monsoon season, decreasing water level and dry seasons in Pakistan and other countries.

Global Climate Change effects were also presented to sensitize participants and this global issue that need a strong action by developed countries to support poor one to strengthen their resilience as well as working together with poor countries to control emission and keeping the average global temperature below 2 degree Celsius to prevent the planet from devastations. Finally emphasize was made on importance of Copenhagen conference in December 2009 where the world nations would meet to take serious measures on global climate crises. However, it was also emphasized that it is important that every developed and poor country play its due road before the Copenhagen for just decision and we as a nation should take it a personal obligation to create awareness on climate change issue and advocate for strong government actions without further delay.

My first presentation to office colleague was quite encouraging for me as the staff members after the presentation showed their personal commitment to play a due role in creating awareness by sharing knowledge and information among families, friends and other stakeholders and emphasizing on the importance of this issue. They also emphasized that government authorities should also be approached in this campaign. Following staff members participated in the presentation along with their personal commitments regarding climate change issue;

· Aziz Ahmad, Project Accountant- will share the knowledge and scientific information about climate change with his community members living in Northern Areas where precious glaciers are rapidly melting

· Sardar Ahmad, Office boy- will share with his villagers and friends about the consequences of deforestation and its effects in terms of landslides, flashflood and environmental degradation

· Azhar Ali, driver- will share with his all driver friends about the environmental pollution, particularly through increasing number of vehicles and use of fuel

· Waqar Ahmad, Community Project Officer- will arrange a walk in his village in Swat valley regarding climate change and global warming

· Ms. Ruby Jehanzeb, Monitoring & Evaluation Assistant- will mobilize her friends in careful use of electricity and less use of plastic bags and papers for health environment

· Sabirullah, Engineer- will disseminate information with his friends about what he learnt from presentation on climate change

· Zameer Ahmad, Community Grants Coordinator- will encourage his target communities in use of alternate energy production like small hydro power projects in villages near to Siran river for meeting energy needs in rural areas in environment friendly manner

· Abdul Mateen, IT Officer- will start his plantation campaign and will plant first tree at home

· Ms. Erum Waheed, Community Project Officer- will start plantation campaign and mobilize her family, friends and relatives in appropriate use of electricity and water and less use of plastic bags to promote environmental protection

· Ms. Somia Perveen, Community Project Officer- will adopt a simple life, go for plantation and avoid use of different spray and aerosols.

· Ms. Sadia Shaheen, Community Project Officer- will approach her friends and relatives and share the cause of climate change and its impacts over poor communities and countries

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My inspiration from Melbourne- Asia-Pacific Summit on Climate Change

I strongly believe in community voice that pursue for a common goal and to achieve some thing that could really make a change- a positive change in the lives of human being or at least advocating for what they deserve and need. With a common voice, which even comes from different culture, a change is possible. That’s what I learnt from the Asia-Pacific summit on Climate Change in Melbourne during July 11-13, 2009. I was amongst the 261 people from nineteen different cross culture who sat together and come up with a common voice to advocate for the issue of global climate crises- an utmost need and a “not to ignore” issue of the present and future generation of this planet.

I was proudly representing Pakistan in the summit and I had a lot of inspirations from Melbourne that generously hosted the event and set a great example of collectivism and finding a path of change through the participants from nineteen countries of Asia-pacific region. Mostly heart touching, the honorable Al Gore- former vice president of United State of America was there in the summit with his high level of motivation for making a common voice among the all participants and mobilizing them to advocate in their own capacities on the issue of climate crises.

My inspiration began when I started my journey from the hot summer season of Pakistan and in a day time I entered into the freezing cold weather of Melbourne. These thought continued till my way back to Pakistan as I was again in the hot summer. Interestingly this first observation of different weather pattern at a same time in two different regions clicked my mind to think more about the time when life is impacted by a sudden disaster that hit some area and people are not able to cope with the situation. My inspiration continued further as I meet with new people and new friends all welcoming each other, particularly The Climate Project (TCP) team, proudly hosting the summit and bringing together all the people on same plate form.

The word Climate Change was although not a new word for me but with different experience sharing by friends and experts and the discussions on findings of modern science regarding concentration of Greenhouse Gases like CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide etc by human activities, particularly after the industrialization, I was inspired to take a firm decision in my heart by that time to advocate for “Act Now” slogan of AL Gore with his positive view of “Glass Half Filled”.

As I was going through the magic of continuously showing commitment by the summit’ organizers and participants, my inspiration to work on climate change issue went high as by having different slide shows and presentation, I was recalling the vulnerabilities of my own country “Pakistan” as well as Mansehra district where I live and work. I was continuously thinking about the realities of climate change effects on my own communities and my beautiful country such as melting glaciers in the north, increasing dry seasons in lower parts of the country, flashfloods in hilly areas, changing monsoon weather, decreasing water level every where, changing pattern of rains and heavy floods in plain and lower areas. How can I forget the unexpected 1992 flood and the 2005 massive earthquake that ended thousands of precious lives and valuable assets and means of livings, of course not? The journey of my inspiration continued by all the new discussions and new scientific information to reach my communities who are not aware of all these causes of climate change but ignorantly denying the causes created by human beings by their own.

Talking about the environmental pollutions and contributions of different countries in this pollution through emission of Greenhouse Gases and ultimately giving a devastating effects of climate change, particularly on poor countries, I was of the view that a road to Copenhagen must be a well defined and well analyzed road by all the world nations. An utmost action is required to reach a common agreement where countries polluting the environment and emitting Greenhouse Gases put a control on it while the poor and most vulnerable countries are supported in terms of their increased resilience to climate change and improved livelihoods for better living standards.

With an inspiring message of Al Gore, I like other countries’ participants made a commitment to become a part of global awareness raising on climate crises and advocating for the ACT NOW measures to prevent our planet from the increasing effects of devastation. I reaffirm my commitment to reach my communities, media, friends and colleagues and government representatives to share the alarming situation. And with my high level of inspiration from Melbourne, I am also sure that Pakistan with its available limited resources and capacities would play significant role in this most important challenge for present generation.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How smart can I be to find solutions on climate change…? Can you help me by answering my Questions?

As life move ahead, I realize with the passage of time the hard consequences of climate change and its effects on my people, my family, my friends and my places I belong to. I know the fact that climate change is a result of wide range of human activities that lead to the abrupt changes in life. With my personal observations, I also realize its effect in the pleasant lush green area I live it and belong to, such as melting of glaciers, significant increase in temperature, changing monsoon season, number of natural disasters such as landslides, flash floods and wind storms at the time when my people are not ready to cope with such sudden changing situations. I realize the importance of work on climate change more whenever I read about this topic, especially the lines like these about my people and my places;

  • Global climate change is affecting Pakistan with an expected temperature increase higher than the global average and change in monsoon rain patterns and melting of ice in the northern areas
  • During 1992-2005, Pakistan experienced 11 extreme events with the 2005 sliding earthquake in the NWFP killing more than 70,000 people
  • Characterized by soft geological surface and steep slopes, Siran Valley in NWFP is amongst the most vulnerable to natural disasters having faced numerous unexpected disasters due to climate variability
  • The population depending on agriculture and livestock for livelihood source, people’s capacity to thrive and develop competence and resilience is threatened
  • The area is rich in biodiversity including avifauna, mammals, reptiles, aquatic fauna, flora & forests, and endangered species. Resident species are little affected but greatly affect seasonally important waterfowl

In the same time when I realize the critical importance moving around the theme of climate change I am too worried for the fact that majority of the illiterate residents living in remote far flung and hilly locations face the consequences of climate change effects but are unaware of the causes of climate change. For me the most alarming situation is the fact that my people are not aware that they are gradually moving towards a critical and harsh future where the on-going human activities would have turned the beauty of these valleys into darkness, where the pleasant weather of summer in snow bound areas would be no more a place for leisure and attractions for tourists and where the future generation would not enjoy the beauty of time that the present generation is enjoying.

Being one among those knowing the facts of climate change to

some extent, I feel the responsibility of making my people aware of the increasing fears and risks of climate change and making them aware of the actions that we all can take together to minimize the impacts of climate change. With my limited knowledge and sphere of work that I do for my community and my places, I often think how smart I can be to help them more effectively. For this, I would like to ask from people and search more especially from those who really count themselves among responsible educators for people and places to protect them from the impacts of climate change.

My questions for all of you are;

  1. Is our planet being a safe place to live “A right of life for my people”?
  2. Are people contributing to such human activities that lead to increased climate change held responsible for their acts?
  3. If my people and my places are gradually going to the era where climate change will be uncontrollable devil then how can we help them now to protect from those consequences in future?
  4. What are the international community agreements or commitments that can really work to protect my people and my places from the climate change effects?
  5. What special you are doing that me and my people can apply to reduce the impacts of climate change?

Asif Iqbal