Pakistan: Drought Information bulletin

The situation

The drought situation in Sindh and Balochistan is rapidly developing into one of the worst disasters in Pakistan. Upland Balochistan and Sindh in 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 many years has reached a record low, with minimal or sometimes no rainfall. Pakistan Meteorological Department 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 suffer from abdominal diseases and discoloration of teeth over time.

According to Pakistan National Drought Monitoring Centre, severe drought is prevailing in most parts of the Sindh province. The provincial government of Sindh declared that the eight worst drought affected districts are Tharparkar, Umerkot, Dadu, Thatta, Sanghar, Kambar Shadadkot, Jamshoro and Badin. The Natural Disasters Consortium (NDC) comprised of IOM, FAO, UNICEF, ACTED and HANDS conducted Drought Needs Assessment in the eight districts. The World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) also provided technical support for the assessment.

The detailed assessment was conducted in January 2019, 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.

After the rapid drought need assessment, the government of Balochistan declared that the 18 worst drought affected districts are Pishin, Killa Abdullah, Noshki, Chaghi, Kharan, Washuk, Panjgur, Kech, Jhal Magsi, Awaran, Zhob, Jaffarabad, Barkhan, Quetta, Killah Saifullah, Kohlu, Naseerabad and Kachhi. The assessment aims to understand the current drought phenomenon in Balochistan and its impacts on agriculture, livelihood and water resources and to identify existing coping mechanisms adopted by rural households in the drought affected areas.

Response and rehabilitation directorate, operation wing of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been declared as “Drought Secretariats” for effective coordination of efforts. NDMA on the request from PDMA has submitted summary to the office of prime minister for approval and support to drought affected population in 26 severe drought affected districts in Sindh and Balochistan. NDMA has also approached to United Nations Agencies, humanitarian actors to augment the government’s efforts and support in ongoing response for affected population.