Climate Change: A Threat To The Socioeconomic Development Of Balochistan – OpEd


Climate change is one of the most significant problems that humanity is now experiencing. As global temperatures increase and glaciers melt, the frequency of severe weather is rising. Even though warnings have been issued by scientists from all around the world, many people still don’t seem to comprehend how climate change will affect our future. On occasion, whether out of ignorance or doubt, people are unaware of the effects of a changing environment.

People frequently confuse the terms “climate change” and “weather change” because they don’t know what each one means.  Climate change is essentially a series of extreme weather events that are occurring more frequently in different parts of the Earth, but we haven’t done enough to reduce their effects. Human activity has altered the Earth’s overall environment, which is why the planet’s temperature is steadily rising. 

The consequences of climate change are very harmful in Balochistan Province. In the province, the effects of rising temperatures, an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, flooding, and a shortage of water are particularly noticeable. Numerous effects of climate change are being felt in Balochistan. 

As temperatures rise in the province, heat waves are happening more frequently and for longer periods of time. In addition to putting human health in peril. The rising temperatures are causing heat stress, which can lead to heat stroke, dehydration, and even death. Turbat reached the highest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan in 2017 during a heat wave, reaching 53.5°C (128.3°F). People and the environment in Turbat are suffering a great deal as a result of the city’s rising temperatures. Forecasts for the future indicate that these consequences will worsen.

More severe weather conditions, like droughts and floods, are also occurring in Balochistan. These occurrences have the potential to evacuate people from their homes and harm infrastructure and property extensively. Recent floods in Balochistan have resulted in the displacement of almost 4 million people, including the floods of 2010 and 2022. The destruction of crops and livestock caused by the flood has had a huge impact on the agriculture sector. This will undoubtedly lead to future food shortages and price increases.

The flood that occurred in Balochistan in 2022 is still having an impact on the province, and it may take some time before the entire extent of the damage is understood. But it is clear that the flood completely ravaged the province, and it will take a while for things to return to normal. Monsoon rains, which as a result of climate change are becoming stronger and more frequent, are what cause these floods.

Another significant problem is the scarcity of water in Balochistan. In Balochistan, water scarcity is a significant problem, and climate change is expected to make it worse. The province receives less than 200 mm of precipitation annually, which is insufficient to meet the demands of the inhabitants. The amount of food produced, the availability of drinking water, and the quantity of livestock were all significantly impacted by the drought. 

Between 1997 and 2003 and from 2014 to 2017, Balochistan had the two longest and harshest droughts ever recorded. These drought’s widespread water constraints triggered agricultural failures and human migration in search of water and viable economic options.

Water scarcity is also severely affecting agriculture. This leads to a food shortage and higher costs. 85% of the people who live in the province depend on agriculture as their main source of income; therefore, the floods have affected the capacity of many families to make ends meet. The recent monsoon spells in the province have had a devastating effect on rural populations. Rural Balochistan’s socioeconomic development is significantly influenced by climate. The agricultural industry depends on having access to the required amount of water.

The province of Balochistan’s economy and way of life are heavily dependent on livestock which is negatively impacted by water scarcity. Balochistan’s agricultural and pastoral systems depend heavily on livestock, which includes cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. However, the communities that depend on livestock face a number of difficulties due to the limited water resources caused by the drought and other issues. Over 1.5 million livestock in Balochistan died between 2010 and 2022, according to research by the Balochistan Climate Change Cell. According to the report, draughts, floods, heatwaves, and other events are the reason for the loss of livestock, the province has lost more than $1 billion as a result of the cattle loss.

People are being displaced as a result of water scarcity as they are compelled to relocate to locations with more water. Conflict and tension in society are a result of this. Over 100,000 people were evacuated in Balochistan between 2010 and 2020 as a result of water constraint, according to a 2020 report by the Balochistan Climate Change Cell. The majority of those who have been forced to leave their homes because of a lack of water come from the districts of Quetta, Pishin, Turbat, Pajgure, and Khuzdar.

To Improve or reduce the impacts of climate change on socio-economic conditions in Balochistan requires a multi-faceted approach by the Government of Balochistan. First, the government of Balochistan should create and carry out comprehensive climate change policies and plans tailored to the province’s particular requirements and vulnerabilities. Strategies for adaptation, mitigation, catastrophe risk reduction, and capacity building should be part of these policies. The management of water resources, agriculture, livestock, infrastructure, and disaster preparedness are all emphasized by these policies.

Unfortunately, the absence of adequate reservoir and dam systems in the province has resulted in significant water loss during the most recent monsoon season. On the one hand, dams and reservoirs can reduce the initial force of floods, but on the other hand, they can recharge the groundwater table in certain specific locations by storing water. Furthermore, seven dams in Balochistan collapsed in 2022 due to extreme rains , corruption and poor construction, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people. Additionally, because of poor maintenance, these dams could not endure the torrential rains.

Second, the government should improve water resource management by building water reservoirs, installing rainwater collection systems, and encouraging the use of water-wise irrigation techniques. Additionally, the failure of these dams serves as a warning about the significance of properly constructing and maintaining dams. Water storage and irrigation depend on dams, but if they are not built and maintained properly, they can potentially be dangerous. To avert further catastrophes, the government must take action to guarantee that all dams in the province are adequately built and maintained. As a result, the effects of water scarcity will be lessened on home use, livestock, and agriculture.

Third, Balochistan’s government needs to start implementing agricultural practices.  The government of Balochistan should encourage the use of drought-tolerant crops, effective irrigation systems, and soil preservation techniques to improve agricultural vulnerability to the effects of climate change. 

Fourth, Balochistan’s government has to put early warning systems in different places. Create and improve early warning systems for extreme weather conditions like droughts, floods, and heatwaves. Communities can prepare and lessen the socioeconomic effects of catastrophes with the help of timely warnings.

Fifth, the government, NGOs, and other organizations should start spreading awareness about climate change.  As mentioned early that the majority of people are unaware of climate change. In order to educate communities on the effects of climate change and the adaptation strategies, the government and other organizations should support climate education and awareness programs. Citizens’ sense of ownership and cooperation in tackling climate change can be fostered by education. Involving local people in the planning and decision-making can make a better change.

One of the most important strategies for combating the effects of heat and reducing the effects of climate change is plantation, especially the planting of trees and other forms of greenery. GoB should launch a tree planting program with the support of educational institutions and make it compulsory for students to plant five trees in a year. Greenery and trees play a key role in regulating the temperature of the environment through a variety of procedures.

We frequently face devastating disasters, such as floods and droughts, as a result of poor management, a lack of planning, and a failure to draw lessons from the past. Our officials enjoy when natural calamities strike because they get the opportunity to deposit money into the bank. Officials only show up to take pictures, post them on social media, and participate in other forums. Seventh, Balochistan’s government needs to improve the quality of its human resources so that it can quickly and effectively design and implement climate change policies through its institutions and local authorities.

In Balochistan, climate change is a significant issue, although it is not insurmountable. Investing in climate research to understand the environmental trends and more precisely calculate the socioeconomic effects of climate change. Because of the distinctive topographical and socioeconomic features of Balochistan, particular solutions are needed. 

To successfully implement climate change adaptation systems in the province, a coordinated strategy involving the government, local communities, civil society, and the commercial sector is essential. By putting these measures into place, the Government of Balochistan can significantly lessen the effects of climate change on the socioeconomic well-being of its population and create a more resilient and sustainable future for the province.

Dr. Siraj Bashir

Dr. Siraj Bashir (Ph.D.), Director Research/Editor BTTN Journal, Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN)

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