Thursday, December 23, 2010

We need happiness with the start of New Year..

The dry cold December is on its way to hand us over to the New Year. I saw people getting ready to rejoice the New Year. Plans are there to have new celebrations around the world. And in few hours more smiles would wrap faces of hundreds of thousands with the start of Christmas day.

It’s so nice to search for happiness. Every little or big opportunity that could bring happiness in lives is of great worth. Perhaps more in case when there are lots of barriers in the way of happiness- poverty, disasters, away from the loved ones.

It’s almost five months now when disastrous flood in Pakistan snatched happiness from thousands of people- little children, women and their families. Standing water in Sindh still prevent people in many parts of Sindh province to go back to their area of origin, where they could find their happiness once again. I understand the way to happiness would still be a long journey for those who will recall their loved ones, their muddy but beautiful houses, their destroyed lands where they cultivated and always felt happiness after having crops ready with their days and months long hard work in field.

Pakistan flood that came this July, August perhaps look a matter of no concern when our politicians have their fights with breaking old ties and searching for the new ones and having first objective of securing power in the current instable political scenario. Generously helping the victims soon after the catastrophe by international community, aid agencies and Pakistan army, a limited struggle for rehabilitation continue silently. It was unfortunate that international media focused more on few controversial issues than the massive disaster happened in the living history of Pakistan. I still remember the words of Ban Ki-Moon, in his speech saying Pakistan flood a slow motion tsunami with its impacts more than the earthquakes of Pakistan and Haiti and that of tsunami itself. Perhaps this is now even more unfortunate that both the media and politics of Pakistan has shown much diversion from its focus on Pakistan flood and its affectees but having all the time discussion on changing political ties in the country.

For me, the challenge of restoring lives of flood survivors is much important than the current political games, show case of Wiki Leaks or the stupid debate on crickets spot fixing. At least, no one fighting with live in the aftermath of flood would have any interest on these issues, rather having their priority to feed their children, protect themselves from harsh winter and arrange medicines in ghot, chak or kaley (villages) where they won’t found a proper health facility.
The world has just finished talking, debating and agreeing during the recent UN talks in Cancun on what measures they could take to protect the world from climate catastrophes. Although non-binding, still it is encouraging to see agreements on many issues between the rich and poor nations (except Bolivia). Again, the result would not come in front until we have some concrete actions taken and help people to protect their lives from changing weather patterns and extreme events like of Pakistan flood this year.

We would love to see how our government becomes more interested and keen to look at possible opportunities after the Cancun talks in the best interests of climate affectees in Pakistan. Our people need happiness with the start of New Year, not the politics...

Photo: channel 4 News

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Success story of Rashda- a Connector from Pakistan

Rashda is a voluntary climate campaigner in Pakistan. Belonging originally from the beautiful valley of Kashmir area, she believes that empowering females in sustainable livelihoods at local level and replicating good practices through trained female entrepreneurs at village level would contribute in the well being of poor families, helping them adapt to climate risks and improve their food security.

Early this year, Rashda, being her expertise in organic farming, decided to help our voluntary initiative "We ecopreneurs" by training three village women as entrepreneurs from the sub division Balakot (Pakistan) and helped them how to promote organic farming/kitchen gardening at local level and market their produce to earn income for their families.

Believing on strengths of village women, Rashda motivated three females (Qudsia, Sonia and Sehrish) by imparting series of orientation sessions among their communities on climate change and food security. She was able to actively engage a women CBOs in Balakot and started organic kitchen gardening competition programme to motivate village women towards environment friendly livelihoods.

Qudsia, Sonia and Sehrish, after understanding what climate change is and how it is impacting their lives, first got willingness from their families and started growing turnips crop in small plots near their homes . They found it easy to grow when they learnt about organic farming from Rashda. Successfully, these women were able to sell their produce in a local market and earned a good profit as well.

To further motivate these village women, Rashda distributed cash prizes among them and linked them with National Agriculture Research Center Islamabad (NARC).To simply replicating the good practice, Rashda was able to provide free of cost seeds from NARC to Qudsia, Sonia and Sehrish who further distributed these seeds among more than 50 local females. The three women entrepreneurs would now further assist village women to start home based organic kitchen gardening and earn at local level.

Rashda is quite happy by starting this initiative in Balakot and successfully motivating village women to engage in environment friendly and locally sustainable source of earning. She anticipates that such initiatives will contribute much in improving economic activities among village women and helping them improve their adaptation capacity against climate crisis.

Rashda, orienting local females on climate change and importance of organic farming

Sehrish after receiving training was able to start organic kitchen gardening near her home in Balakot

Ready crop

Next step would be to sell it out in local market with the help of their male family members

Prizes distribution on successful initiative

Prizes distribution on successful initiative

Prizes distribution on successful initiative

Qudsia, after being trained on organic farming is able to share learning with rest of the females in the village

Future planning!!

Rashda work in a local NGO- SRSP and also climate project connector from Pakistan.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What Climate Change is in the eyes of flood survivors in Pakistan

Last year when I was in Australia, attending Al Gore’ training on climate change, I never thought by that time how much visible and catastrophic can be the impacts of climate change in our own lives. Living fortunately in one of the greenest areas of Pakistan- Mansehra, I had been observing how the time kept on changing our local environment. I observed gradual changes such as decreasing forest cover over the mountains, late start of winter and hot summers just like in the western part of the country. Often these changes were long term which others would have also felt but never realize its cause if not known to the science of climate change.

And then we witnessed the massive flooding which changed everything in Pakistan. Last year, I learned from The Climate Project training that climate change will cause more disasters on our planet, unexpected in its occurrence, horrible in its magnitude and devastating in its impact on human lives and economy. This is all what we witnessed in the aftermath of Pakistan flood this July-August 2010. Although the flood water has gone (Sindh province still inundated with flood water), the catastrophe has left awful impacts on the lives of survivors. People have lost their livelihood’ means and worried about the future of their families and children. Nobody other than the climate affectees can well share how climate change does really mean and this is what I heard last month from number of flood affectees living in the worst affected villages of KPK province.

I had only heard the name of flood but due to the heavy rains this time we have seen such a destructive flood which has taken everything away from us. People says we have not seen a flood like this during the last 130 years, said a 70 years old Mrs. Basri from district Charssada. She further shared; “my two sons have lost their houses. I can see the diseases have increased now. Prices have increased. Our children are not able to continue their education. My children who were working on daily wages on the farms of others are no more able to work due to the destruction of agriculture lands”.

One of the most devastating impacts of the flooding is the survivors’ vulnerability in terms of difficulties in restoring their livelihoods. I met with few farmers who were able to evacuate their family’ members but have lost their precious fertile land and crops, being the main source of their earning. Ehsan Ullah, one of the farmer from the Charssada district shared his story; I am a tenant and I have to pay Rs. 7,000/- to the landowner against the 4 canal (half acre) of crop land. We have to pay this money to the landowner either we produce less or more. This year when we had already paid the money to the landowner, the flood has swept away all the crops and now I have nothing in my hand. He further added, “Every year, we face flooding up to 2-3 feet only every summer and during the monsoon season, but it only affected our lands, but this time it was just too much. Flood water came up to 13 feet in our village. It not only destroyed our lands but also destroyed our houses and everything we had in our houses”

Pakistan, already ambushed into the challenges of insecurity and economic crisis, has now gone further back in the race of economic prosperity in the aftermath of massive flooding. Increasing population and now the flood devastation has further limited the economic growth. Even before the flood devastation, climate change had started affecting crops productivity in most of the country rural areas. One of the flood survivor farmers, Siraj from district Nowshera shared his story with me; it is becoming harder to grow and maintain crops production because every year we are flooded during the monsoon from the River Kabul. Due to water logging and salinity, it is becoming harder every year to grow. From 1970s to 2004, villagers used to send 35-40 trucks of tomato only being produced in our lands and earning about 7 million rupees, but from the last 5-6 years, our crops production has reduced and people are now turning toward other labor work. Siraj further added how unexpected the flood was; we were not expecting flood this year as the usual flooding time had already gone, but then the massive flood came and we were not ready for this devastation with such a big magnitude. It damaged everything, our lives, our homes, our belongings and now we are helpless. We have almost lost 250 acres of fertile land due to this unexpected flood and massive rainfall this year.

There are lots of such real stories that someone can hear from flood survivors in Pakistan, quite enough to realize and understand what climate change is in REAL. We all, however need to go beyond this realization. This is the time to act, especially when the world leadership will be meeting in Cancun in few days, to reach a binding agreement and make real efforts to bring down the carbon emission to the desired level. Failure of Cancun would only mean more disasters and more flooding like of Pakistan.

Photo credit: Muhammad Ali, Senior Communication Officer- WV Pakistan

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Story of Daniella- passion, children and climate change

It’s a passionate and inspiring story of Daniella who turned 10 this 10/10/10!

Daniella lives in Canada. She was born in Nigeria while her parents were in Nigeria 10 years ago. This 10/10/10 when the world celebrated global day of action against climate change, little Daniella came up with her innovative but very passionate idea- Support flood affected children in Pakistan by raising $ 1010.10 by Oct 10- the day she would celebrate her 10th birthday!

When she was born in 2000, the United Nations Millennial Goal of eradicating poverty by half by 2015 was announced. Knowing the fact that 1.2 billion people are still below the poverty line and the UN target seems quite difficult to achieve, Daniella also wanted to do something.

To help Daniella in her fund raising mission, Cathy- one of my friends from Canada, arranged for her to give a speech at a significant community event in Canada. On October 6, 2010, at the Good Green Town Hall for the Municipal Elections, Daniella read the Christian Prayer for eradication of poverty and announced her 10/10/10 goal. Her prayer at the Good Green Town Hall was the same one that was also officially read to 100,000,000 million in churches across the world on 10/10/10.

Starting her one week fund raising mission up to $ 1010.10, Daniella initially collected donations from the Good Green Town Hall, her own school, friends and from her birthday party. By 10/10/10 Daniella was able to raise funds up to $ 1010.10 which she donated for the flood affected children in Pakistan through World Vision.

Its fact that Climate change is everywhere, impacting lives of poor and especially of children. The passion of Daniella and her mission for 10/10/10 shows a universal love for children especially for those who are less fortunate than others. In the aftermath of Pakistan flood where 50% affectees are children out of 21 million, passions like Daniella gives another ray of hope and love in the world of disasters and challenges.

Dedicated to Daniella for her passion and love for the children of Pakistan!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why wise people say- Every second is precious

Dear friends, I just want to say how important every second is for us when we advocate on climate crisis...

When we think about our self, our lives and our limited surroundings, we rarely believe the urgency of issues in its true spirit. Often we realize issues in depths when we personally experience them and then we start sharing with friends, family members and people in our lives. Perhaps this is the reason that after massive flooding this July-Aug in Pakistan, we are more emphasizing from Pakistan to spread the word and ask the world leadership to take real action to fight against climate crisis.

However, after seeing one of the wonderful, informative but alarming resource, I think what we are doing is actually too less than what is really happening around the world in every second.As I clicked the website link, the first alarming thing that I observed was the increase in population every second, deaths happening every second and emission of CO2 every second. I noted that just in 1 minute and 54 seconds, 432 people have been born, 147 people have died and 79,000 tones of CO2 has been emitted in the world.

I realize how vital it is to communicate and educate people and ask the world for a Climate with Positive Change. Looking at the website and as the sign of birth and death kept on appearing in different parts of the world, I continuously thought how rapidly the world is changing and how slowly we are advocating for change.I just hope we all realize how important every second in our life is to do some thing for the betterment of humanity.

Please share where you can.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15- I start my birthday with a Blog on Water

October 15- it’s my birthday and it’s also the Blog Action Day for water. I was just thinking what can be a good thing to do to start my day. And then I decided to write my new blog on Water- a basic human right to live and survive.

Thinking about the water crisis and then about my birthday, Iam feeling much concerned of where I am going with every year of my life. Can I really celebrate my birthday when, every year people in my country continue to suffer more and more? And why I am thinking like this… because of one of the facts in my mind right now- fresh water availability per person in Pakistan, as per the UNDP report, has reduced to 20% of what it was available 50 years before. It is not something to ignore.

Why shouldn’t I be much concerned? Only in Karachi city, more than 20,000 deaths are reported every year due to unsafe water. More than 40% deaths in Pakistan are due to water born diseases. 60% infants’ deaths are related to water born infections. Only two rivers’ water in Pakistan i.e. Sindh and Jhelum has relatively better quality, while rest of the three major rivers have major biological loads. Although with less than a percent share in global carbon emission, Pakistan is one of the worst hit countries due to climate catastrophes. The massive flooding that started in July this year in Pakistan is the most evident example in the climate change history when almost one fifth of the country area was under water, impacting more than 21 million people. While flood water was everywhere, not a single drop of clean water was available for thousands of little children, women and their families. Sindh province is still flooded.

Talking about the basic human rights, we often think about freedom of expression, freedom to vote, freedom to move freely, freedom to live a healthy life etc. What about those rights which we often neglect or give less priority in the international debate- ability to access clean drinking water to live. Very simple- if we can’t provide clean drinking water to a child, how is he or she going to live a healthy life and how is he or she going to live long and able to vote in future? About one eighth population of the world i.e. one billion has no access to safe drinking water.

Thinking about future is much concerning with the increasing impacts of climate change in Pakistan and all around the world. In most of the rural Pakistani society, women are usually responsible for fetching water in hard hilly areas in the North and the largely spread deserts in the South. As the changing climate patterns continue to degrade water resources, this is going to increase the hardship of rural women by forcing them travel more in search of water. While 10 to 15 percent reduction in the precipitation rate in the plain arid and southern parts of the country is observed during the past 40 years, the severe droughts of 1999 and 2000 in Pakistan has also sharply reduced the water table.

For the world, especially those who advocate on human rights violation must seriously take into account the severity of environmental rights’ violation, where water crisis comes on priority. This is the message that I, being a climate campaigner, would like to give as I start my birthday on October 15.

Photo: Hanif Khattak

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

350, the Street children in Pakistan and road to Cancun via Tianjin

10/10/10- It was just an amazing day how beautifully and largely 350 coordinated all around the world. Celebrating 7,347 events simultaneously in 188 countries, I am thinking what a success it is in climate advocacy.

Being a climate campaigner with The Climate Project and now in coordination with the amazing 350 campaign, I feel excited that we in World Vision Pakistan provided an exciting opportunity to the most vulnerable segment of the society i.e. the STREET CHILDREN and SPECIAL CHILDREN in Pakistan who joined their hands and voices with thousands of the climate campaigners around the globe and celebrated Global Work Party in Pakistan.

Here are few of the photos that shows how these vulnerable children gave a strong message to the entire world to take action against climate crisis. Perhaps these children in Pakistan are more concerned for their future than those talking about climate change right now in Tianjin and those who will be in Cancun this December.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It’s less than a week time now: street children in Pakistan getting ready for 10/10/10

It is now less than a week time when thousands of the Global Work Party organizers will showcase different events on climate change, street children in Pakistan will also raise their voice and ask the world to take action against climate change.

Children in the World Vision Drop In Center Rawalpindi are busy in the preparation to celebrate 10/10/10 with rest of the world.

World Vision Pakistan is working with the most vulnerable street children in Pakistan and believes that these children have the full right to raise their voice and advocate with the world to take action against climate change. For us, this is more important than ever before especially when the entire country is facing the worse impacts of massive flooding that affected more than 21 million people.

As 350 coordinates around the world to celebrate 10/10/10 Global Work Party, the street children getting psychosocial and other capacity building support in World Vision Pakistan Drop In Center will also come forward to make the world realize and play their due role to ensure safe planet free of disasters.

Street children will plan full day celebration with different role plays, shows, painting, showcase of crafts made by reuse and recycle material, display of key messages and interaction with the civil society and government officials.The day celebration will also give a new start of campaigning in World Vision Pakistan for fight against climate change

The full day celebration will happen on 10/10/10 in the World Vision Drop In Center, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

This 10/10/10 street children in Pakistan will have a voice for the world

World call them street children.. they are neglected, they are exploited...

However for us, they are the same children, like those who enjoy their beautiful lives with their parents and friends....

When temperature reaches 54 degree C in Mohenjo Daro (Pakistan) this summer...

When massive flooding hit Pakistan and affect more than 21 million population this monsoon...

When 50% being affected from this flooding are the children...

Then who is going to ask and know how these children and their families will survive and celebrate life...

Nobody knows how poverty and climate change hit their lives and multiply their hardships... they are most vulnerable... but they are also the agents of change. And this is what they are going to show this 10/10/10 to the world.

This 10/10/10 World Vision Pakistan (WVP) will join hands with the 350 to celebrate Global Work Party in Rawalpindi, Pakistan by engaging the most vulnerable street children to create mass awareness on climate change and advocate with the world to seek its solutions.

On 10/10/10, the most vulnerable street children from the Pakistan community, with whom WV is working to empower them as agents of change, will inform the world about the increasing impacts of Climate Change on our people, specially on children and will demand for a strong action.

WVP, along with 350 will mark 10/10/10 as a full day celebration for Global Work Party by engaging the street children in Pakistan. WVP work with the children at risk and provides them different capacity building, health, education and recreational facilities in its Drop In Center (DIC) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan with the participation of their parents and care givers and mainstream them into development process.

On 10/10/10 these street children will perform different awareness raising and recreational activities on climate change like role plays, tablue along with the special children of minorities group, display of key messages and banners, paintings and exhibition of different crafts made of re-use and recycled material by the street children. These children will also participate in the event where the employees of the city district government Rawalpindi and the members of WVP’ Community Support Groups will organize cleanliness of a garbage dumping point in the Rawalpindi city.

WVP and 350 believe that on 10/10/10, these most vulnerable street children of Pakistan will play a role of champions in creating mass awareness on climate change. This day, the street children from WVP’ DIC will give a very strong message to the world for taking firm actions and protect the lives of vulnerable children and their families from the worse impacts of climate change.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

InterAcademy Council report is not negating the realities of Climate Change.

Soon after the InterAcademy Council published the report on August 30, 2010 on the process and procedure of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), skeptics found it a smart way of advocating their own agenda to divert people attention from urgency of action on climate change. I have gone through a same kind of an article which tries to blame IPCC and climate campaigners and put together a number of statements from the InterAcademy Council report, which a reader, who has less knowledge about climate science, would start believing that climate change is not real and people like Al Gore have their own interest in the climate game.

I am not a scientist, but having some sufficient background knowledge and some work experience as climate campaigner, at least I am not among those who would be impressed by the articles of such skeptics. The extreme events i.e. massive flooding in Pakistan and wildfires in Russia, are consistent with the climate models. Interestingly, the deniers’ efforts are following the same example of “Glass half empty”. In the case of criticism on fourth Assessment report-2007 by IPCC, here the glass is almost filled. Only the two errors coming out from the report doesn’t mean that climate change is not real. A good thing is the acceptance of IPCC on these two errors and an excellent thing is to invite InterAcademy Council to convene a committee to review the process and procedure of the IPCC so that IPCC could make more efforts to minimize the chances of errors in its future reports.

For me, learning and improving process is important for everyone, either for an individual or for an organization. The scientists and the staff in the IPCC are also human beings and nobody can be perfect. The important thing is to learn from mistakes but not to deny it. I found it quite interesting that the argument of deniers on the basis of InterAcademy Council report are still based on the those errors which the IPCC has already accepted. I didn’t find anything in the report which would say that Climate Change is not real. According to the Inter Academy Council report, The Committee found that the IPCC assessment process has been successful overall”. Similarly the committee mentioned about the IPCC that “More than a thousand volunteer scientists evaluate the available scientific, technological, and socioeconomic information on climate change, and draft and review the assessment reports. The thousands of scientists and government representatives who work on behalf of the IPCC in this non-traditional partnership are the major strength of the organization”

The major recommendations coming from the InterAcademy Council report is to improve the process and procedure, which I think is not a bad thing. Given, the advancements of technologies and interest of the audiences, definitely the innovation, efficiency and effectiveness are the indispensable characteristics to satisfy the needs of people. The IPCC should now evaluate the key findings of InterAcademy Council and decide where they need improvement in governance and management, review process, characterizing and communicating uncertainty, communication and transparency. The IPCC would definitively have its own say on the functioning of its three working groups on quantitative likelihood scale, quantitative confidence scale and the level-of-understanding scale in future reports, however, the evaluation by report will also help the IPCC to be more effective than before.

I wonder if the IPCC can accept its mistake on the two errors, out of the excellent work done on its fourth assessment report, then why don’t these skeptics accept their mistakes that they are committing by advocating the agenda that climate change is not real. IPCC assessment report is written on 2,823 pages, written by 1,325 authors and having the 17,969 unique sources. Only the two errors don’t mean that climate change is not real and that’s why the InterAcademy Council report mainly talks about further improving the process and procedure. It doesn’t say anything against the realities of Climate Change.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I would never wish my country to become an example of climate vulnerabilities...

This weekend I was going through a new slides on Climate Change coming from The Climate Project Australia. Almost each and every slide has a message of change behind it, that I personally think, we need to spread among those who don't know it. While going through the slides, my mind directed my finger, not to click on next slide further, as I saw the word Pakistan. The slide says-

A few years later Multan, Pakistan, the temperature soared to 126°F (~52°C). The average high summer temperature in Multan is 108°F (42°C).

And then the other slide after it....

In 2010, Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan experienced a high temperature of 129°F (~54C). This is the highest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan and possibly the fourth highest ever recorded in the world.

And then I got another email from a subscribed source "Repower America" reading that - Around the globe, we are on track to see the hottest year yet in 2010. From the flooding in Pakistan to droughts in Russia and landslides in China, the effects of this year's extreme weather are catastrophic and undeniable.

For a while I was thinking, whether the name of Pakistan being highlighted in the current international debate on climate change- such as increasing extreme events is of what importance for us? Are we able to highlight the impacts of climate change on the country like Pakistan and many others, being neglected before or it is a real point of concerns for us living in Pakistan that now we are more vulnerable than before due to the impacts of Climate Change.

Being a humanitarian, I would never wish that the name of my country become an example in Climate Debate. I would like that my country and every country in the world do not face the miseries because of climate change. But this is the fact that Pakistan is now experiencing more impacts and this is what the changing weather pattern and increasing number of natural disasters like the current flooding in Pakistan is now bringing us more in the talks.

There are number of the countries who are experiencing the impacts of climate change and I would never wish that any extreme event make them "unfortunately known" in the list of most vulnerable one. This is the time that the world leadership become more serious before the Mexico summit and do not let more countries like Pakistan to become more and more vulnerable due to increasing impacts of climate change.

This is the time for action and this is the time for showing seriousness. We don't want to see more news like "20 million affected in due to massive flooding in Pakistan". Let this world be a safe place for all of us and for those in future who will only be talking about our behavior' responsiveness for mother earth.