Not too long ago, when Baby Bhutto was rhetorically measuring the area of Kashmir so that he may reclaim it “inch by inch”, the people of Tharparkar were struggling for life on their own land. When in 2014, the resourceful in Sindh got busy in reviving the civilization of their land, Tharparkar was embracing death due to scarcity of water. Meanwhile, when Zardari and Bilawal were enjoying on the nodes of Sindhi music, someone’s cry of anguish remained unheard and unnoticed at large. Pulling off an event across the board is easy but pulling someone out of natural and man-made calamity requires political will and national integrity. Unfortunately, this appears to have been overlooked in the region for years. It is the water scarcity which defines life there. It would not be an understatement to say that government has left the locals at the mercy of rain. Versing out for rain is something what they do to get their basic amenity: water. The fact of the matter is, if clouds run away without pouring rain, it adds more to the grief and miseries of the people as the major source of their income is agriculture and livestock, which depends on rain water.

There are many factors which have led to life being at stake in Tharparkar. The ongoing crisis is an outcome of poor management, callous nature of politicians, lack of adequate health facilities, absence of alternative livelihoods, paucity of edibles, insufficient rainfall and lack of access to fresh water. Resultantly, the consequences are numerous and alarming. Among them, the most notable are malnutrition, starvation, high mortality rate, migration and sweeping out of livestock. However, with adequate water resources, political commitment and sincere effort, the daunting situation can be overcome. With the right policies and intention, people of Tharparkar could be living a peaceful and prosperous life in the not-too-distant future.

The drought in Tharparkar has not unfolded overnight, but it certainly has multiplied owing to the sheer negligence of provincial and central government. The catastrophe was certainly not unpredictable, unlike tsunamis or earthquakes. It could have been dealt with timely measures and comprehensive strategy. But, the apathy and insensitivity of the government was what that intensified the magnitude of calamity. It’s been three years that the drought has been challenging the lives of locals but government stays as aloof. Sadly, none of the elected bothered to take steps needed to alleviate the gravity of the drought. What they instead care about are their petty interests. The region has been neglected by those at the helm of affairs for years. Had the situation been tackled with sincere efforts, the current blow would have been averted to a great extent.

The district of Tharparkar has been subjected to climate change since past few years. Severe drought associated with famines has become a hallmark of the region as there has been no rainfall at all since last year. Despite being the largest district of Sindh, Tharparkar is water-stressed and prone to droughts and famines due to unavailability of sufficient drinking water. This acute water shortage has compelled people, along with their livestock, to migrate to greener pastures and barrage areas nearby. Furthermore, the drought-like situation has reduced the productivity of crops by manifold.

Aggravating their misfortune, the lack of health facilities and rampant poverty contributes more to the miseries of locals. Undoubtedly, they pose threats bigger than the drought itself.

The region is devoid of adequate medical facilities, significant medical camps and paramedical staff. As a result, Tharparkar has seen malnourished children suffering pneumonia, diarrhea and other debilitating diseases owing to factors like drought, poor health infrastructure and poverty.

Ultimately, the region has witnessed ghastly horrible and gruesome consequences equally dreadful to both human beings and livestock. The prolonged dry spell has taken the lives of hundreds of people, with countless animals perishing. The wave of death is moving with steady acceleration, with crusts being overly dominant. The region presents the landscape akin to Africa where people are dying of starvation, but Bhutto remains alive and well.

Nonetheless, the catastrophe can be mitigated with realistic approach and the region can be made less prone to disaster by committed and dedicated efforts. Government needs to install water plants on an urgent basis in rain deficient areas. Also, the vacant posts of doctors and paramedical staff must be filled on priority basis. A drought control cell must be set up across the area to address the issue effectively. Authorities need to ensure the availability of ambulances in far flung areas of the Tharparkar. Famines associated with droughts can be overcome by ensuring availability of food items. By implementing the above proposed measures, the people of Thar can be pulled out of their catastrophe.