Pakistan

Pakistan: Drought hits 45pc cropped area in Balochistan

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Dawn, By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, July 10: Drought has badly damaged 45 per cent of the cropped area in Balochistan, Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf said here on Thursday.

Speaking at a meeting held at Balochistan House to discuss options for the drought stricken province with the United Nations Development Programme, the chief minister called for urgent assistance of donor agencies and the international community for sustainable development in the province.

He said the drought had affected the province so drastically that sustainable livelihood had become impossible to a great extent.

The acting resident coordinator of the United Nations, Aboul Naga, said the situation was alarming and the massive decrease in cultivation could be dealt with by the introduction of arid agriculture techniques suitable to the land conditions in Balochistan. "Arid agriculture is practised throughout the world and similar techniques can be successfully applied in the province," he suggested.

He said the poor people in the province were affected as food deficit was prevalent with the population lacking recommended consumption of proteins and carbohydrates.

He said the drought had resulted in tremendous losses of livestock and people had been forced to change dietary habits by postponing expenditure on education, health and sanitation.

He said it was necessary to promote high value low delta crops, like pistachio and olive. There was a need for promotion of agro-industry in targeted crops and careful monitoring of water levels in the province, he said.

He stressed the need for an integrated provincial drought relief policy.

Planning and Development Additional Chief Secretary Nadir Ali said that due to financial and technical constraints, the provincial government was in dire need of assistance from donors for the affected people.

He deplored that in Balochistan only Rs25 per capita was being spent on health per year and Rs22.7 on drinking water.

The United Nations Development Programme's Resident Representative Lena Lindberg said Pakistan had signed the UN convention to combat desertification and developed a national environmental action plan, which recognized the role of communities in development.

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