Drought - Pakistan Update No. 12

Situation Report
Originally published

Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System's Operational Activities for Development in Pakistan
The threat of drought that was visible but distant on the horizon in March has now become quite real. In March, there was still hope that things might improve with rains in the following months. Unfortunately, the months of April and May proved to be relatively dry with the rainfall significantly less than normal as a result of the La Nina weather phenomenon. The whole country has been affected by the lack of rains especially areas of Sindh and Balochistan. Even the Federal Capital, Islamabad, could not escape its ravages and has encountered water shortages. According to the Capital Development Authority, in the end of May, Islamabad was receiving 47.97 million gallons of water per day against the requirement of 111 million gallons per day which is being managed through supply on alternate days and in some locations, the residents go without water for even more than two days at a time.

The seriousness of the drought can be gauged by the fact that the State Bank of Pakistan has recently reported that the drought will cost the national exchequer $ 927 million in the third quarter.

Meteorological Background of the Drought

The drought prevalent in the country these days does not owe its existence to a single factor; rather it is the culmination of a number of elements. However, the single most important factor remaining the La Nina, which resulted in abnormal weather conditions. For the last year, Pakistan has been a focus of this phenomenon and it was responsible for the intense heat and minimal rains the whole winter and even in the months of April and May this year. This situation has impacted negatively on river flows and resulted in regional tensions over supply of water as many canals have practically dried up and the others operating with minimal flows.

Impact on Economy

The drought that is yet to show its full face has already had a sizable impact on the economy of the country. The State Bank has calculated the effect of the drought to the tune of $927 million in the third quarter. As a result of this blow to the economy, the anticipated GDP growth rate of 4.5% will not be achieved, rather, the GDP growth rate will fall to less than 3% resulting in the stagnation of the per capita income. As Pakistan is an agriculture based economy, the major industries owe their production to the agricultural output which has significantly reduced due to the drought resulting in increasing the country's dependence on imports thus adversely affecting the "Balance of Trade" of the country.

Another major setback of the drought is the reduction in the country's ability to produce hydroelectricity due to lack of water. To remedy this, additional furnace oil has to be imported for the production of thermal electricity further dwindling the foreign exchange reserves. It is estimated to cause an additional loss of nearly $ 1.2 billion to the country.

Impact on Agriculture

According to official sources, the losses in Rabi crops will be more than Rs. 28.50 billion. Wheat production went down by 2.57 million tons this year because of the drought. Current production is estimated to be 18.53 million tons as compared to 21.1 million tons in 1999-2000. Similarly, the losses expected during the Kharif season are approximately Rs. 29 billion. Among the Kharif crops, cotton production will fall from 10.6 million bales last year to 9.7 million bales costing Rs. 9 billion. Rice production will go down from 4.8 million tons to 3.9 million tons costing Rs. 10 billion. Sugarcane production will fall to 35 million tons as compared to 44 million tons costing Rs. 10 billion. The drought has also adversely affected the production of pulses. According to official sources, the production of gram is expected to decrease to 540,000 tons as compared to 565,000 tons in 1999-2000.

Production (million tons)
Loss (Rs. billion)

*Projected figures except for wheat
** Cotton production in million bales

Impact on Livestock Sector

Livestock sector has also been affected very adversely by the drought. According to the official sources , the losses to this sector are worth almost Rs. 15 billion. Out of this amount, Punjab suffered a loss of Rs. 5.5 billion, NWFP Rs. 4.4 billion, Balochistan Rs. 3.5 billion and Sindh Rs. 1.63 billion.

Province-wise situation of losses in the livestock sector is as follows:

(Rs. Million)
Affected Livestock population (millions)

Province-wise affects of the drought are as follows:


The province of Punjab is affected to a great extent by this drought as is evident from the government's relief programme for the drought-hit areas. Punjab government has recently allocated Rs. 250 million for the drought-affected areas. According to official sources, 60 to 90 percent of the wheat crop in the arid areas has been destroyed by the lack of rains while in the irrigated areas this loss is reported at 10 to15 percent. In arid areas 7.4 million acres of land was affected while in irrigated areas, 700,000 acres of land was affected. According to the Government of Punjab, the wheat crop in 2,632 villages was damaged and the livestock sector is estimated to have suffered a loss of nearly Rs. 5.5 billion. In Punjab, ten districts are arid and they are the most affected by the drought. Among them are Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Lodhran, Chakwal, Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Attock, Mianwali, and Gujrat.


Balochistan is the worst affected province from this drought. It was adversely affected by the drought of 2000 and low rains in 2001 has significantly worsened the situation. The province received almost 50% of the normal rains in the summer while winter rains turned out to be only 37% of the normal. According to the provincial authorities, 1.911 million people have been affected while 9.31 million livestock have been affected out of which 1.76 million have perished. A total of 1.973 million acres of cultivable land has also been affected by the drought.

Last year, a Relief Commissionerate was constituted by the Government of Balochistan along with a Drought Crisis Control Center and the Provincial Disaster Management Committee for the management of relief efforts in drought affected areas. The Federal Government as well as other government sources have already contributed more than 1.1 billion rupees in cash while nearly Rs. 400 million worth of in kind donations were received from various Pakistani as well as foreign organizations.


During the last year, Sindh has experienced the brunt of a number of natural calamities such as drought, cyclone, earthquake etc. The total losses that the province had to face due to these natural calamities amount to Rs. 145.8 billion out of which almost Rs. 33 billion are attributed to the drought and water shortage, Rs. 100 billion to the sea intrusion, Rs. 7.93 billion to the cyclone and Rs. 4.574 billion to the earthquake. The areas of Sindh worst affected by the drought are Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas, Thatta, Sanghar and Kohistan regions.


Over 2.2 million acres of cultivable land in NWFP is likely to be affected by the recent drought during the Kharif 2001 cropping season. Especially affected are the rain-fed areas in the southern and northern parts of the province. The Government of NWFP is seeking financial assistance of around Rs. 1.4 billion from the Federal Government. The districts of NWFP to be affected by the drought include Mardan, Swabi, Kohat, Hangu, Karak, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Battagram, Buner, Bannu and Tank.

Current Status of Mitigation and Control Measures

The government has initiated efforts to remedy the situation created by the drought through immediate relief as well as rehabilitation of the drought affectees for which, the Federal Government is considering the allocation of Rs. 10 billion. As a long-term measure, the government also intends to allocate Rs. 120 billion in the future for investment in water resource development. Accurate figures will be available after budget announcement towards the end of this month.

The United Nations System in Pakistan has also initiated measures to gauge the impact of the drought in the affected areas. It has completed a Non-Food Assessment of the drought-affected areas in Sindh and Balochistan. A Crop and Food Assessment Mission has also been launched and the results of that mission will be available during the first week of July. Based on the results of both the assessments, the UN will initiate relief measures in cooperation with the Government of Pakistan and the international community.

Missions from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank visited the country to assess the impact of drought and to suggest remedial measures. The mission from the Asian Development Bank has been completed. The UN is in close coordination with these missions and a Memorandum of Understanding has been drafted for reaching an understanding between the United Nations and the Banks to avoid overlaps and facilitate further cooperation in the future. The World Bank is likely to provide $250 million to Pakistan to lessen the impacts of the drought. The Asian Development Bank also intends to reallocate a sum of $ 125 Million from existing programmes for the same purpose. Details of the "National and International Response" for the drought stricken areas of Sindh and Balochistan are available in Annexes 'A' and 'B'.

Future Outlook

According to the Meteorological Department, the climatic cycle is expected to return to normal and the monsoon rains are likely to be normal this year. According to the Met. Office, the La Nina weather phenomenon is showing signs of subsiding and the climatic perimeters will also return to normal in due course. However, this improvement would not result in any immediate relief to winter rain zones, i.e., major parts of Balochistan, Northern Areas and Kohistan Range of Sindh Province. The situation in these areas would keep on deteriorating until possible start of winter rains around end of the year.

UN Information on drought in Pakistan can be accessed at


National and International Response for Drought Stricken Areas of Balochistan and Sindh Provinces * IN CASH


Federal Government Rs. 2.5 billion (equivalent to US $48.8 million) for Balochistan.
Rs. 1 billion (equivalent to US $19.5 million) for Sindh. 
Provincial Governments Rs. 407 million (equivalent to US $9.48 million).
Private Organizations Rs. 45.5 million (equivalent to US $ 888,000).
President of Pakistan Rs. 5 million (equivalent to US $ 82,000).


Japan US$ 4.37 million (through Government of Pakistan for water supply, medical and livestock relief products as well as vehicles for relief activities and transportation & monitoring services).
Turkey US $ 3 million (through Government of Pakistan).
China  US $ 5.0 million (through Government of Pakistan).
US $ 50, 000 (through Pakistan Red Crescent Society).
South Korea US $ 50, 000 (for both Sindh and Balochistan).
USA US $ 70, 000 (through NGOs for both Sindh and Balochistan).
Norway US $ 22,000 (through OCHA - for animal feed in Balochistan).
EU  Euro 1.21 million (equivalent to US $ 1.15 million) (through Oxfam, Italian Red Cross and Pakistan Red Cross).
New Zealand NZ $100,000 (equivalent to about US $43,900 through Red Crescent Society of Sindh and Balochistan - for urgent medical treatment and rehabilitation activities).

UN Assistance

UNOCHA US $30,000 (for animal feed in Balochistan). With this assistance and NORAD's funds ($22,000) received through UNOCHA, Balochistan Area Development Programme of UNDP arranged preparation and distribution of 200,000 Urea Molasses Blocks (UMB) to supplement the poor grazing and crop residue feeding of 30,000 breeding sheep and goats in the hard hit areas of the Balochistan province. 
UNDP US $100,000 (for assessment, donor coordination and logistics support).
WHO $10,000 (for medicine) for Balochistan. 
FAO US $392,000 for animal feed, veterinary support and coverage with vaccine and medicine for about half a million animals.
UNFPA Emergency obstetric care kits as well as safe delivery kits for pregnant women for use by obstetricians or trained midwives in drought affected areas of Aranji, Balochistan. 



Government of Punjab 500 metric ton fodder, 550,000 bags of wheat flour, 547 truckloads of miscellaneous relief goods (for both the provinces).
NGOs 500 metric ton food items and fodder, 25,850 packets of items of daily use, 555,000 bags (20 kg each) of wheat flour and 80 bags (80 kg each) of wheat, 4 truck of miscellaneous relief items and ration for 1,000 families.


Turkey A planeload of food items and medicines.
UAE Wheat flour 100 metric tons, lentils 60 metric tons, cooking oil 20 metric tons, milk 10 metric tons and tents 300 nos.
Japan A planeload comprising of 44 group tents and 7 water tanks.
Saudi Arabia Two planeload comprising 600 tents, 3200 cartons of foodstuff and 362 parcels of medicines.
Kuwait Two planeload of relief goods.
Germany 31,000 packages of food worth DM 570,000 (equivalent to Rs. 14.25 million).
USA based NGOs Ration for 5,000 families for six weeks.

UN Assistance

UNICEF 2,000 each of 5 essential drugs, 315,000 sachets of ORS, 450,000 water purifying tablets, 60 metric tons of UNIMIX food, 15 hand pumps, 2 water pumps, 40 water storage tanks, 11,000 Jerry cans and 200 Pit Latrines and Disposal of Solid Waste. 
UNHCR 600 packets of foodstuffs, 150 tents, 600 jerry cans (10 liter each) of water, 400 packets of utensils, two tankers for water supply (on loan for 2 months).
WFP 437 metric tons of wheat and 73 metric tons of edible oil for drought affectees of Khuzdar, Lasbela, Chagai, Pishin and Killa Abdullah in the Balochistan Province.

Source: Cabinet Division, Emergency Relief Cell, Government of Pakistan, UN System, NGOs, Newspapers and Web Site Updates

UN Information on drought in Pakistan can be accessed at


Summary of Relief Support/Activities Undertaken by the Government of Balochistan Upto May, 2001

Ration Provided 12,000 metric tons excl misc. items (Biscuits, Juices, Jams, Milk, Dates, Macaronis, Cooking Utensils, Clothing, Shoes etc.)
Supplement Food provided  412 metric tons
Feed Provided 21,242.436 metric tons (for 22,668 farmers owning 1.2 million animals)
Vaccine Provided 3,343,270 doses
Animals Treated 1,172,044
Medicines Dispatches Worth Rs. 9.3 million
Static Camps 36 (At present - 5) including Army
Mobile Teams 45 (At present 6) including Army
Patients Treated 179,275
Children Vaccinated 1,179
Free Mobile Camps 22
Lady Doctors assigned to affected areas 76
Visit of Medical Teams comprising Senior Doctors including high officials to affected areas 13
Revival of Small Water Schemes 138 Nos.
Water Tanks (500 Gallon Capacity) 112 Tanks
Water Carriers 7
Water Tank (2,500 litres) truck mounted 35 tanks
Water Bowzers Tractor Towed (4,800 litres) 40
Water Trains arranged 13 (1.10 million gallon water)
Water Cans 2,843
Hand Pumps 75
Wells Improved 37
Generators Provided 6
Artificial Rainfall 18 flights over 500 KMs. in different areas in Quetta, Zhob & Khuzdar.
Saffron Trucks 70
Tents provided 850
Blankets 4,504
Winter Garments 270
Fire Wood 377 metric tons
Thatched Huts 476
News Clippings 1,402 (only from 7 newspapers)
Articles 50 (in various newspapers)
Press Conferences 11 times
Television Coverage 122 occasions
Television/Radio Talk Shows in Local languages 25 programmes
Delegations received/briefed 105 (including 37 foreign delegations)
Monitoring Teams One in Each District
Log Area Mobile Teams 9
Log Area Inspection Teams 3
Joint Inspection Teams (Relief Commissionerate and HQ Logistic Area)
District Administration
Food Support for 9,000 families Pakistan Red Crescent Society
Food Support for 8,000 families World Food Programme
Medical Aid on reach-out policy for six months Pakistan Red Crescent Society
Relief Support Equipment worth US$ 3.5 million Government of Japan
Ration/Winter Support for 1,500 families International Islamic Relief Agency Denmark
Provision of Relief Support worth Rs. 60.00 million Federal Zakat Council
Food Support for six months to all affectees Italian Red Cross