The climate change is wreaking havoc throughout the globe. The human desires for getting developed and the industrial processes are deteriorating the favorable conditions of the planet. The temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and the water bodies is rapidly increasing. The natural habitats are getting disturbed. The glaciers and polar ice caps are melting. The favorable conditions of the planet that are mandatory for the survival of life are getting deteriorated. Sea level is rising and water resources are getting scarce. According to the estimates of scientific organizations, the temperature on the planet would increase 1.4-5.8 Celsius, by the end of this century. The UN framework convention on climate (UNFCC) Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, explained this devastating situation as the Climate Emergency.
Climate Change is actually the global phenomenon affecting different geographic regions of the planet, disproportionately. One of the regions that are intensively hit by the Climate Change is South Asia. In this region, there are extreme weather conditions such as heat waves and floods. The rise of 2-4 Celsius temperature in sea surface is about to increase the intensities of the tropical cyclones by 10 to 20%. This rise in temperature along with the decrease in precipitation is more likely to exacerbate the challenge of water scarcity. Contrarily, water resources are already under huge stress because of immense rise in population and inefficient use of water. Consequently, climate change in the region is rapidly increasing the risk of hunger and declining the crops yield. According to the calculations, every 1 Celsius rise in temperature will increase the requirement of agricultural water from 6-10%. In addition, it will not only affect the agricultural production, but it will also have drastic effects on market dynamics and prices. Consequently, it will be hard for the poor to purchase food products.
According to the National Intelligence (USA) report, 11 countries on the planet are vulnerable to the socio-political and socio-economic instability due to the climate change, and Pakistan is one of them. In Pakistan, climatic challenges are ranging from the unpredictability and scarcity of rainfalls in Monsoon season to the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers. This melting of ice caps and glaciers contributes in the Indus River System and there’s high probability of facing destructive natural disasters like floods and droughts. Pakistan has faced more than 150 weather related incidents till now. According to the estimation of environmentalists, there are more than 30 glaciers which are at the risk of bursting, and may consequently lead to ice avalanches and floods. Apart from that, the increase in temperature to the favorable limit increases locust production by 20 folds every 3 months. Consequently, the climate emergency is major threat to the food security of Pakistan.
Due to the Climate Change, Pakistan’s food security is at high risk. The World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defined food security as “the universal access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that fulfills the adequate dietary requirements and provides satisfaction for the healthy life at all the times”. There are some real glimpses of food security issues caused by climate emergency in Pakistan. Unfavorable changes in temperature, excessive rainfalls, melting of glaciers, floods, water scarcity, rainfall in harvesting season and droughts have drastic effects on the Pakistan’s economic and food security. The Food and Agriculture Organization warned South Asian states in its report about wet winter, and concluded that 38% area of Pakistan in which 15% from Punjab, 25% from Sindh and 60% from Baluchistan could serve as breeding ground for locust, and the severe damage in Rabi Crops are also predicted.
Moreover, Food security challenges for the poor are also very hard. Since the 2013 droughts, water crisis became the usually occurring issue, and 87% of the people in drought affected areas of Pakistan are rearing livestock. The lack of fodder production and scarce water lead to the animal diseases, deaths and consequently limits the sale. Furthermore, In 2018 Monsoon rains in Sindh and Baluchistan were 40% and 45% below average, respectively. In the next year (2019), heavy rainfalls resulted in floods in Baluchistan and Sindh, which caused 1.4 million children (Age Group 6-9 Months) suffer from the malnutrition. According to the calculations of UN Food and security cluster, the drought in Pakistan affected approximately 5 million people in about 26 districts of Baluchistan and Sindh Provinces.
According to the Human development Index 2020, Pakistan ranked 154 out of 189 states and ranked 106 out of 119 states in Global Hunger Index. Global Hunger Index indicated that 22% of the Pakistan’s Population is undernourished. Apart from that, World Food Programme (WFP) reported that Pakistan’s 60% Population has suffered from food insecurity, 43% children of less than 5 years are suffering from Malnutrition and 15% from the acute malnutrition.
A meticulous analysis reveals the irrefutable importance of agriculture sector in state’s economy. Figures show that it contributes approximately 22-24% of the total GDP and generating employments for almost 40% of the workforce. Contrarily, Climate Change could cause a loss of about 4 billion dollars annually, along with inflation in food prices and halting its production. Moreover, it is also estimated that South Asian countries have to deal with 36 million climate migrants till 2050. Pakistan would also have to face this burden of migrants on its vulnerable economic position.
To ensure its survival, Pakistan has to deal effectively with this Climate Emergency and Food Security Challenges. There are few recommendations for overcoming these challenges:
- The Government of Pakistan should start the awareness campaign about Climate Change and its drastic effects, at the national level. Every media platform should play its role actively and responsibly.
- According to the World Bank report of 2019, Pakistan’s Carbon emission was 190,570 Kilotons and increased by 1.74% from 2018. Pakistan should take measures to decrease the carbon emission and must switch to the clean and green energy resources. This will decrease the production of Green House Gases and will create favorable climatic conditions in the country.
- Pakistan must start plantation drive at a larger level and should take safety measures for the protection of forests in the country. Trees not only produce oxygen and minimize the effect of heat waves but also check the floods. Pakistan has taken a good initiative globally familiar as “Ten billion tree tsunami” by Ex-PM Imran Khan which was appreciated by UK Prime Minister Boris Jonson. Yet the jenny is out of the bottle, because 27000 million hectares forests have been destroyed till now.
- Pakistan should devise an effective mechanism of water storage and water shouldn’t be wasted especially in the areas that are highly affected by the droughts and water scarcity.
- Pakistan should set up its own food storage bank to tackle with this food insecurity. Moreover, Food storage bank should also work for the areas with higher proportion of malnutrition.
- Recently, India took an appreciable initiative of creation of Food Corridor with UAE and Israel to overcome the challenges to food security. Likewise, Pakistan should also create its own food corridor with the friendly Islamic states in Middle East and China.
This is high time to call a collective international collaboration to eliminate the cancerous cells of climate change not only from Pakistan but also from the whole planet.