Balakot is one of the historical areas in Hazara division, famous for its natural beauty which attracts tourists from across the country to visit here, especially to stay in Shogran and Naran during the summer. Lake Saiful Malook* is of course a place worth to visit and enjoy the nature.
Communities living Balakot depend on rain fed agriculture for their livelihoods. Local forests are the only source of fuel for these communities. Depletion of forests, together with increased precipitation in the northern parts due to climate change (as evident from the data of Pakistan Met Department) has made this area vulnerable to flash floods and landslides.
Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), a leading national NGO in the KPK province, is helping local communities to take local level initiatives for their development by organizing them as LSOs- a cluster of village organizations at union council level.
Access to information and resources required to build community resilience against natural disasters is always a major constraints for communities in Balakot. This was the beauty of the Al Gore’s slideshow which really helped local communities, even the illiterate, to understand in simple way what climate change is and how different human activities trigger this change.
However, the key advantage that came out from the today’s presentations was to identify what possible solutions communities can think of to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Groups thought about the possibilities of initiatives such as agro-forestry, multi cropping, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, improved agricultural practices, protection of land and water resources and installing micro-hydal power plants to generate hydal electricity which can also help in irrigation of agricultural lands.
Given that increasing impacts of climate change in Pakistan such as depletion of water resources and food insecurity would make this region vulnerable in future, community groups like LSOs can play an important role to help communities to adapt to climate change. They would, however need financial and technical support.
My special thanks to Ms. Naheed, TCP Connector and an active development professional from SRSP for organizing my presentations to three LSOs in single day!!