A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
Pakistan is experiencing an increase in the frequency and severity of drought due to a rise in temperatures since September 2018, the adverse effects of El Nino and the decrease in the amount of rainfall during monsoon season. Historically droughts tend to occur in cycles of 16 to 20 years, punctuated by more frequent smaller drought events in the south. In 2018, Pakistan received 24.4 per cent less rainfall during the monsoon season (May to August), while Sindh Province was 69.5 per cent below average, and Balochistan Province was 45 per cent below. Sindh faces moderate to severe drought conditions in eight districts while Balochistan faces the same in 18 districts. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), severe drought-like conditions have emerged over most of the southern parts of Pakistan due to a lack of summer rain, with an expectation that the situation will continue to deteriorate over the next four years due to climate change.
Based on available data, PMD issued three alerts between June to December 2018 of moderate to severe drought condition in eight districts of Sindh and 18 districts of Balochistan. According to the PMD, the hardest hit areas in Sindh provinces are Tharparkar, Sanghar, Umerkot, Thatta, Dadu, Kambar, Jamshoro and Badin. Overall, eight out of 23 districts and three million (seven per cent of total) population are affected. Whereas in Balochistan province, the hardest hit areas are Awaran, Barkhan, Chaghi, Kachhi, Kech, Kharan, Kohlu, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Killa Abdullah, Kila Saifullah, Naseerabad, Noshki, Panjgur, Pishin, Quetta, Washuk and Zhob districts. Overall, 18 out of 32 districts and 1.4 million population (11 per cent of total) affected. According to the latest drought advisory for January 2019 from the PMD, moderate drought conditions are still prevailing over many parts of Balochistan and Sindh provinces in the coming months.
The drought situation in Sindh and Balochistan is rapidly developing into one of the worst disasters in Pakistan. Upland Balochistan and Sindh in the south are the most heavily affected by severe drought. These affected areas of Balochistan and Sindh have been prone to water shortages, rainfall measured over the last few years has reached a record low, with minimal or sometimes no rainfall. PMD said in its alert that “severe to extreme drought-like conditions” have emerged over most of the southern parts of Pakistan due to lack of summer rain. The abrupt decline in rainfall in most of the upland areas of the province has caused a complete drying up of the surface drinking water resources and has decreased water output from springs and tube wells. This has caused the water table to drop in most of the valleys and low-lying areas. This prolonged period of drought badly affected food production systems hence the health of community members, especially women and children. During the severe drought conditions, there is scarcity of nutritional food and potable water, which leads to the spread of disease. Recent drought, caused by less than average and erratic rainfall and long dry spell led to out-migration of rural population to barrage areas to seek food, water, and gainful employment. In the face of no feasible alternatives, communities’ resort to drinking saline or unfit water and consequently suffer from abdominal diseases and discoloration of teeth over time.
In November 2018, a multi-sector needs assessment was carried out by National Disaster Consortium (NDC) led by IOM in collaboration with FAO, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, HANDS and ACTED that confirms overall 71 per cent of households are moderately or severely food insecure whereas 32 per cent are severely food insecure. Food consumption for the majority of households is either ‘poor’ or ‘borderline’ with 18 per cent having acceptable, 41 per cent poor and 41 per cent borderline food consumption. The findings suggest that the drought has caused an overall 34 per cent reduction in crop cultivation. The crop wise reduction in area cultivation was highest in Tharparkar, where cluster bean cultivation was reduced by 92 per cent, millet by 84 per cent, and pulses by 95 per cent; and in Tharparkar and Umerkot in Sindh province, sesame cultivation was reduced by 100 per cent, thus seriously impacting food security and livelihoods. Initial findings from the National Nutrition Survey show that the malnutrition rate among children under five, as well as among pregnant and lactating women in Balochistan, is alarmingly high. Global acute malnutrition among children under five was 18.6 per cent, above the global nutrition emergency threshold of 15 per cent in every district. Similarly, malnutrition among pregnant women is 37 per cent. Around 20 per cent of acute malnutrition is prevalent among the children and Pregnant and Lactating Women (PLW).
Another assessment was also conducted by The Natural Disasters Consortium (NDC) in January 2019 in Sindh province, comprised of IOM, FAO, UNICEF, ACTED and HANDS, to assess the impact of the drought on agriculture (crop cultivation, production, water availability and livestock), livelihoods and food security, access to water and sanitation and hygiene practices of the households and communities and to provide recommendations to the Government of Sindh, NDC partners, and other decision/policy makers to prioritize actions (short, medium and long term) in relevant sectors and geographic areas to address immediate needs, build back better and increase future resilience to drought.1 Since the onset of drought, Pakistan Authority in Sindh and Balochistan have been providing food rations, water purification plants, and medical supports. However, a significant number of drought-affected communities remained unattended. Pastoral communities in Sindh and Balochistan are adopting coping strategies of distress-selling of livestock, abandoning their primary and precious assets, or migrating along with their livestock to other districts. The communities are resorting to survival approaches that have severely compromised the wellbeing of children and women.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been declared as “Drought Secretariats” for effective coordination of efforts. It has also approached the United Nations Agencies, humanitarian actors to augment the government’s efforts and support in ongoing response for affected population. On 7 February 2019, NDMA organized a Strategic Coordination Forum / Steering Committee Meeting, supported by UNOCHA with the agenda in discussing the drought response plan 2019, and the Chairman of NDMA officially requested international stakeholders to support the serious issue and drought victims, including Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. The immediate needs presented by NDMA as followed:
• Lifesaving nutrition services for children under five and pregnant and lactating women;
• Provision of food rations;
• Safe drinking water and sanitation facilities;
• Lifesaving primary health services;
• Lifesaving maternal and childcare;
• Livestock protection, agriculture management, water conservation;
• Availability of survivor cantered Gender Based Violence (GBV) services;
• Reinforce food security through schools’ programs.