The flood-hit districts of Sindh have been flooded by water woes. The 2010-11 flood wrecked havoc with Sind districts such as Badin, Thatta and Hyderabad, killing hundreds of people, displacing millions and ruining thousands of acre lands. However, the flood survivors are still at the mercy of rebuilders. The most serious problem they have been facing is the dried canals and the women and children, having no other source, have to travel a distance to fetch water for domestic purposes.
It could be pronounced an adventurous trip to thirsty areas of these districts where the scarcity of water, dried canals, consecutive floods of 2010, 2011 and abundant cyclones have left the people in the lurch and at the mercy of the government and non-governmental organisations. They are working for the betterment of the ‘troubles-hit’ people but their condition is not getting healthy. They are living their lives hand to mouth. If we talk about Badin District, the dilemmas have given a phrase to them as “If you want to see the hunger and thrust anywhere, you must visit Badin.
“We used to receive water every week from the canal hardly three years back, but now due to water shortage we have to wait for long time to get water for the crops which affect its yield,” told a local former Ghulam Qadir Manhro to the Nation.
Mandharo belongs to the coastal area of Badin District, the area worst affected by the floods 2011 and always victim of cyclones. He said, “Not only this, hundreds of people, who depend on major canals for drinking water, are also in trouble as it flows once a month.” During the visit to tail end Badin District, the growers taking water from Naseer Canal told this scribe that they could not cultivate seasonal crops and see banana destroying. Mango orchards are also being affected badly due to shortage of water. The local people link it a political nepotism to benefit certain influential people and deprive others of their water share. However, water shortage in irrigation canals not only has pushed farmers to stay idle but also the majority of population in small towns and villages is also facing the obscurities.
Many canals either are stopped at its upstream by certain influential persons or steaming contaminated water, threatening the lives of poor people. In this regard, some information, has been gathered from an NGO the Sindh Health Education an Enterprises Development Organisation (SHEEDO), reveals that the Badin people are compelled to get contaminated water for drinking for many areas.
This phenomenon—as being reported in local media, has caused spread of diarrhea, heat wave, humidity and dryness due to conteminated water in many tail end districts, especially Badin and Thatta. In the same way, the residents of major cities like Hyderabad which is closer to the River Indus, are crying against the water shortage, exhibiting protests frequently. The SHEEDO is designing a ‘position paper’ to determine the current status of water resources focusing on the quality of drinking water in Sindh. Water scarcity for agriculture may affect the livelihoods of rural communities and putting threats of the food insecurity.
Tando Jam Agriculture University Prof Ismail Kumbhar said that almost all the 14 major canals with more than 1,446 tributaries and 35,942 watercourses do not have adequate water for irrigation as well as drinking. He remarked that main canals like Dadu Canal, Rice Canal, Khairpur Feeder, Rohri Canal, Nara Canal, Begari Sindh Feeder, Desert Pat Feeder, Ghotki Feeder, Akram Wah, Phuleli, Piniari Feeder and others are facing almost the similar situation.
Prof Ismaiel said Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar and Tando Mohammed Khan districts, being considered vegetables and fruits growing areas, contribute more vegetables and fruits to the market. But this year, they are facing difficulties to fulfill the needs of markets due to the severe water shortage.
“Common people cannot imagine the impact of water shortage because the major contributors of vegetables either have failed to cultivate crops or facing water shortage to save the sown crops. When these areas will not be able to supply products to market as per its needs, the price of vegetables may increase and affect the poor, who are already under pressure and unable to bear the cost of necessary nutrients,” he said.
SHEEDO’s focal person Asif Khaskheli said “All things have come together, there is heat stroke, water shortage, power failure and price hike due to wrong policies of the government. The people are giving price of government negligence.”
“He predicts “This situation may create food insecurity, with price increase of food items in the affected areas.” Sindh is said to be the main producer of non Basmati rice varieties, namely IRRI-6 and IRRI-9 and produces about 30 percent of total rice production in Pakistan. The fine variety has different names in Sindh such as Roosi, GM Basmati, Kernel, Supper, Dubai or Basmati-2000. The fear of water scarcity may affect the product gradually and the farmers will be direct victims of this problem. Sindh province produces about 1.461 million tons from an area of 0.544 million hectors with an average yield of 2.686 ton rice per hector. However, the growers see the bad impact on the production of this major food crop. Almost all the districts in Sindh have similar status with characteristics as 77 percent of the population inhabited in rural areas and 23 percent in urban areas. In many areas, grower families have abandoned their family lands because of the sedimentation of watercourses and receiving not a single drop of water for long. Sindh Irrigation Drainage Authority (Sida) spokesman reportedly links water shortfall in the River Indus, which is main cause of the problem, affecting overall agriculture sector in the province.
There are more than 1,260 fresh water bodies, registered with Irrigation and the Forest Department, which contribute to irrigate lands and keep the ecology intact. But this unusual water scarcity has also caused drying out many of the lakes, which hit hard fishers and farmers, depending on these water bodies for their livelihood. Fish and vegetables are also available on high-priced cost, which the common people cannot afford to buy. Now this is on the behalf of the government and the NGOs that how they play their role to save Sindhi people from these disastrous troubles and save them by falling in inferiority complex.