Friday, June 12, 2009

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.

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