Thursday, January 21, 2010

CBOs' Advocacy Network in Siran valley ready to advocate on Climate Change

Today I was able to talk to CBOs' Advocacy Network of Siran valley on the causes of climate variability, its impacts on the farmers communities and future potential for this network to advocate with district government on the issue.

Siran valley is one of the most deprived and disaster prone area in northern parts of NWFP (Pakistan). People of this areas has already faced some of the worse natural disasters in the history such as the mega flood in 1992 and devastating earthquake in 2005, killing innocent people and destroying houses, hospitals, agricultural lands, crops and many more. Besides such natural calamities, gender discrimination and deprivation from basic socio-economic services make this area more vulnerable.

Agriculture is the major source of community' livelihood in this area. Not only men, but also women and children help their families by working in fields. This area is very rich for forest and water resources, however people' dependency on forest wood for fuel and houses construction has resulted in rapid decrease in forest cover (more than 45% in a short span of 1o years as per GTZ report). With melting of glaciers and snow on high peaks in north, rains in unexpected months, together with soft geological surface and deforestation causes incidents of flash floods and erosion of agriculture land every year. The recent dry spell of winter has badly affected wheat crop this year while fresh water resources have also decreased significantly. Inflation and less economic ability of poor communities are further impacting living standards, particularly of women and little children. Degrading environment and natural resources are increasing burden on women who are already responsible for fetching water and other agricultural activities, besides their home chores.

The CBOs of Siran valley has recently established Advocacy Network to provide a plate form for local community to advocate on their common issues with government authorities at union council and district level. The information on basic science of climate change, its causes and impacts was totally a thing for them.

By understanding the urgency of climate issue, the Advocacy network would be planning to submit a joint resolution to the District government to demand for annual development plans of local government which integrate climate change adaptation strategies into development process. The demands would focus on initiatives such as sustainable management of water and land resources, improved and climate resilient crops production, community based hydro power schemes, conservation and sustainable management of forests and bio-diversity, income generating schemes and other capacity building initiatives.

The network would emphasize on District government to liaise with authorities at provincial level and other funding sources to ensure such adaptation strategies that could protect people from the adverse impact of climate change in future.

Many thanks to Mubashir Nawaz, Advocacy Officer of World Vision Pakistan for facilitating the consultation meeting and giving me an opportunity to deliver presentation on Climate Change to Siran valley Advocacy Network.

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