Lingering drought causes hardship for many in Pakistan

Geneva, 7 February 2003 - Khimo Dano has a family of seven to support. Everyday he leaves early in the morning after a breakfast of a cup of tea to hire himself out as a casual labourer Islamkot, about 15km away. If he does not find work, his family will have to go to bed that night without having had a meal.

Khimo Dano earns around 1000 Rupees (17 US$) per month. His children also contribute to the family income by doing causal work in a carpet loom factory. They earn about=A0 500 Rupees (US$8) each month. They also collect firewood which Khimo sells in town.

Many families living in the province of Sindh, Pakistan, share similar stories. Sindh province is a region hit hard by a prolonged drought that has claimed lives, decimated people's livestock and severely affected fruit and cereal production. 2003 has seen the drought stretch out into its fourth year - a disaster caused by a weather phenomenon affecting other countries in South Asia, the Near East and the Greater Horn of Africa as well.

Church World Service, Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS-P/A) - a member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International- together with its local implementing partners, Participatory Village Development Programm (PVDP) and the Lower Sindh Rural Development Association (LSRDA) are helping where they can. They are providing assistance mainly to the Mirpurkhas Division which lies in the south-eastern part of Sindh province and comprises of three districts, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Thar.

Like the Dano family, the majority of families in the Mirpurkhas division depend on cattle and agricultural production to survive. However, due to the frequent droughts, agricultural production has been cut back, resulting in lower incomes especially for poorer families.

"With income earnings from all sources we can hardly buy wheat flour, tea and sugar. We have no land and no livestock so we also do not get loans from money lenders,"says Khimo Dano.

According to a report from PVDP, 80% of the households in the Thar region have lost all means to earn a living and more than 50% of the population have migrated to canal-irrigated areas in search of food and fodder.

But 45- year old Lalan, a widow with five children did not leave, as she did not think she could earn a living and feed her five children there. None of her children go to school as she cannot afford the fees. In this particular drought, she has lost both her goats - her only assets.

"Many times we sleep without eating anything," says Lalan, adding that "we are looking forward to harvesting wild fruits and vegetables which will be ready in three months time."

CWS-P/A has targeted 1,500 families in 110 villages in the Mirpurkhas division who are facing acute food shortages. The villages have been selected by their local partners through a strict monitoring and co-ordination system with local authorities and NGOs. An ACT Appeal (ASPK-21)of US$ 151,343 has already been issued.

The criteria for beneficiary selection are based on families who have suffered a loss of crops and livestock, those whose drinking water sources have dried up or are severely reduced, drought affected women, or families where the income earner is disabled and they don't own land or have lost their crops, drought affected families with malnourished children, and families with no sources of income.

For further information please contact:

ACT Communications Officer Callie Long (mobile/cell phone +41 79 358 3171)
Or ACT Press Officer Diana Mavunduse (mobile/cell phone + 41 79 681 1868).

ACT Web Site address:

ACT is a world-wide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated=A0 emergency=A0 response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)=A0 in Switzerland.