HYDERABAD: Nature conservationists have formed a ‘provincial forum on climate change resilience’ on Friday to lead the advocacy initiatives at provincial and district levels.

The purpose was to develop an agenda for influencing and policy advocacy derived from the charter of demands and accountability tools. The forum will give recommendations to improve the climate resilience within rural communities, which are experiencing problems.

It was decided at a consultative meeting organized by Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) at a local hotel, which attracted representatives of government departments, researchers, academia and individual nature conservationists, hailing from Sanghar, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad districts. The participants gave suggestions for the provincial government to design policies, which are pending ever since the constitution of 18th amendment. 

Mumtaz Mangi of UN FAO (United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization) in his presentation suggested introducing climate smart agriculture to avoid food insecurity, which is looming over because of low productivity and effects of weather variations. He said 90 percent of entire canal water is being consumed by agriculture. Despite this, farmers are crying against water scarcity due to bad governance at water bodies, like canals and distributaries, impacting badly on productivity. He further added that, agriculture is not only a backbone of economy; it is also main sources of food production.

Prof Muhammad Ismail Kumbhar, Director University Advancement and Financial Assistance at Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam expressed in his presentation on impacts of climate change on food security that, low agriculture productivity and reducing land of agriculture due to increasing urbanization. He further added that, the absence of land use policy and promoting urbanization on fertile land may cause food security. Besides this, he also talked about degradation of natural water bodies and said 1209 waters have either vanished completely or fighting war of survival. Major lakes like Manchhar, Keenjhar and others are receiving agriculture, industrial and urban waste and produce contaminated fish.

Prof Kumbhar said Thar coal emission may create problems for local communities residing at sand dunes in future. Because there is no trees plantation cover to consume carbon and emission to provide oxygen to the local people.

Ashfaq Soomro, executive director Research and Development Foundation (RDF) endorsed this move and said there was need of such forum to avoid effects of climatic variations. He suggested designing recommendations for the government to promote rehabilitation of forests and rangelands. Natural grazing fields in Thar are being encroached. About 80pc underground water in Sindh has been spoiled because of extraction of underground water for agriculture, he pointed out.

Pirbhu Satyani, regional coordinator SPO in his introductory remarks said they are working with farmer communities in Sanghar and Umerkot districts with specific focus on climate change.