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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Children and Natural Disasters...

Natural disasters have globally increased four times, growing from fewer than 100 in 1975 to more than 400 in 2005.[1] The geographical location of Pakistan has made the whole country, especially the northern parts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), more vulnerable to disaster. According to the recent studies conducted by the scientists of Quad-e-Azam University, Islamabad and NESPAK, the whole NWFP province, including the district Mansehra is vulnerable to earthquakes due to the existence of a number of fault lines. Similarly, events such as landslides and flash floods have been identified as most occurring natural disasters in District Mansehra. This is further exacerbated by the increasing population and soil erosion due to the continuous deforestation in the areas.

Children are among the most vulnerable victims of these natural disasters due to age, dependency on adults and lack of awareness and knowledge about disasters. This was manifested during the massive earthquake of 2005 in Pakistan where a lot of children were affected. More then 73,000 people died during the earthquake, destroying 146,142 houses and 345 schools[2], and 50% of the victims were children. Although, there is very little research conducted on children and disasters in the country, the incidents of disasters, especially the earthquake of 2005 in Pakistan, showed that children are affected most psychologically and physically. Children education is also affected as they were not able to go to schools due to destruction to schools’ buildings. However, children can contribute to reduce those vulnerabilities through access to information, learning new skills through games, risks assessments, participating in planning and sharing information.

Immediately after the earthquake, World Vision Pakistan responded to the earthquake affectees, especially for the protection of children through initiatives like child friendly spaces, psycho-social care, emergency education, monitoring and advocating for the protection of child rights through coordinated efforts with other INGOs. Since March 2007, WV started its Area Integrated Programme in Siran valley to reach the vulnerable communities and children and work more closely through formation of village organizations, child brigades, and disaster management committees to respond to rehabilitation of livelihoods as well as capacity building of children in emergency response and disaster mitigation.

The recent evaluation conducted in World Vision Area Integrated Programme presents very encouraging results of the past projects implemented in ERDM. According to the findings of evaluation, there have been increases in awareness levels by 4%, early warning systems by 2% and awareness about disaster prone areas by 22% since the baseline conducted in March 2007[3]. The work of WV with the child brigades have revealed that children should not be considered as passive victims of disasters. Children can actively perform their roles in disaster preparedness/mitigation if favorable environment is created and communities are mobilized to encourage children, particularly girls to participate in such activities. In general, WV has thoroughly reviewed its two years response programme in Siran valley and is embarking on a community based approach to poverty reduction, through the Community Driven Initiatives (CDIs)[4]with the goal of “Empowering Communities, especially Women and Children, for Sustainable Development”.

Asif Iqbal
Programme Officer
World Vision Pakistan

[1] UN-HABITAT 2007
[2] Monitoring and Evaluation Wing, PERRA, Government of NWFP, Pakistan
[3] AIP Siran Evaluation Report, April-May 2008
[4] Community Driven Initiatives (CDIs) approach is WV Pakistan approach to poverty reduction in which local organization are empowered through transfer of skills and responsibilities for community driven projects management

Monday, June 15, 2009

Different thinking on Climate Change

Climate change is a change of climate attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods


Climate change encompasses all forms of climatic inconstancy (that is, any differences between long-term statistics of the meteorological elements calculated for different periods but relating to the same area) regardless of their statistical nature or physical causes

National Snow and Ice Data Centre

Climate change or variability refers to variations in the mean state and other statistics (such as standard deviations, statistics of extremes, etc.) of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to natural internal processes within the climate system (internal variability), or to variations in natural or anthropogenic external forcing (external variability)

Colorado Water Conservation Board

Climate change is any long-term change in the patterns of average weather of a specific region or the Earth as a whole. Climate change reflects abnormal variations to the Earth's climate and subsequent effects on other parts of the Earth, such as in the ice caps over durations ranging from decades to millions of years.


Climate change: long-term alteration in global weather patterns, especially increases in temperature and storm activity, regarded as a potential consequence of the greenhouse effect


Climate change represents a change in these long-term weather patterns. They can become warmer or colder. Annual amounts of rainfall or snowfall can increase or decrease.

US EPA, Climate Change Kids Site

Climate change term is sometimes used to refer to all forms of climatic inconsistency, but because the Earth's climate is never static, the term is more properly used to imply a significant change from one climatic condition to another.

California Climate Change portal

Climate change: The periodic fluctuations in global temperatures and precipitation, such as the glacial (cold) and interglacial (warm) cycles of the Pleistocene (a geological period from 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago)

The Free Dictionary

Climate change theory emphasizes an expected change in magnitude of radiation processes as an outcome of changing concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and leads to flawed conclusions

Climate Change: A Natural Hazard by William Kininmonth

Climate Change — Changes in regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, and severe weather events.

Friday, June 12, 2009

REFLECTION ON LIFE- An innovative approach towards community awareness on climate change and natural disasters

Elderly people bring a lot of experience and knowledge that can be utilized not only as a rich source of information but also a mean of community awareness on realizing the effects of climate change such as increased number of natural disasters in rural hilly areas. A story of Muhammad Younis tells us how effectively he can reflect on his life and share his personal observations regarding changing weather pattern and its effects of human beings.
I met Muhammad Younis during my field visit on June 5, 2009 to village Harrian, which is one of the remote and hilly areas located in uphill of Siran valley (northern NWFP, Pakistan). He is 65 year old and has a very amazing memory of his life. He can recall his different age times and share with the youth of his village about changing weather pattern and its effects on human lives. Younis can interestingly elaborate the continuous decrease in SNOWFALL and increase in NUMBER OF HOUSES CONSTRUCTION in the village with the passage of time. I was so interested to know these indigenous findings so decided to put these information on a flip chart to measure how Yuonis describes the changing weather pattern and its ultimate consequences.

Younis tell that when he was 12 year old, there were only 5 houses in village Harrian, while he can remember that by that time there was average 12 feet snowfall on hills and the surroundings of his village. At the age of 20, the number of houses reached 30 with number of families migrated to this village and average snowfall decreased to 10 feet. At the age of 40, houses construction reached to 45 while average snowfall in the areas further decreased to 6 feet. Younis has now reached the age of 65 and he tells that there are now 90 houses in his village due to rapid increase in population while average snowfall has further decreased to 3 feet only during the winter season.

Despite of his unawareness on global warming and its effects on weather, human lives and their assets, Younis is of the opinion that this changing pattern of average snowfall is the will of God as the youth of present time cannot afford such hard weather condition that the people of past used to face. Secondly, he realizes that there is significantly increasing average temperature of the area. Younis tell us that often he gets astonished by observing unexpected high temperature during summer season which they never observed some 10 years before in this area. Younis also realizes that due to ongoing deforestation in the area, there is increased number of average temperature and increased number of landslides every year which effect their previous agricultural land, infrastructure and human lives.

Of course, this effective way of Younis’ reflection on his personal life provide a very good source of information and gives an innovative approach towards community awareness on climate change and natural disasters. This approach can be better utilized in creating awareness among local community for protection of their natural assets like forest areas that could contribute in decreasing the risks of natural disasters such as landslides and flashfloods.

Climate Change and communities in Siran valley (Northern Pakistan)…

Communities living in Siran valley (northern part of NWFP, Pakistan) are often affected by adverse consequences of climate change, however they are not aware what the term climate change mean for and why they are affected by climate change. Working as Programme Officer in World Vision Pakistan, I see a lot of potential to work in this sector for the communities of Siran valley.

Siran Valley 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. The area is predominantly occupied by Gujar clan (49%) who are tenants. Majority of the land is owned by Swati (16%), Syed (22%) and Awan (9%) clans. Most land owners are not residing in the valley but settled in Mansehra town. The tenants are more vulnerable, with lesser coping capacity to climate variability, and directly exposed to natural disasters. A total of 13 villages of the Area Integrated Programme (AIP), which was established by World Vision Pakistan (WVP) are included based on their extreme vulnerability to climate risks with 90 percent of households with average or below poverty status. The area has great biodiversity however; many of the species are disappearing alarmingly. Most of the project area is covered by Siran River while a smaller segment is covered by the river Jabar. Aquatic fauna of these rivers is mostly brown and rainbow trout and aquatic snakes. The trout fish are commercially more important and therefore explored at a larger scale.

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. 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.

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. With the majority of 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 that includes avifauna, mammals, reptiles, aquatic fauna, flora & forests, pet animals, rare and endangered species, and it also has protected areas. Resident species are little affected by seasonal changes but greatly affect seasonally important waterfowl. To support ongoing efforts of the government to address livelihoods and assets protection at the district and tehsil levels, household and community resilience to climate variability needs to be developed to ensure production, protection and continuing resources base.