KARACHI - Coastal villagers in the metropolis are facing an acute shortage of water that may create drought-like situation in rural areas. Shepherds, fishermen and other villagers seem worried over the continuous deaths of their livestock, the major source of livelihood for these people. According to a survey, conducted by The Nation on Thursday, several villages are facing acute shortage of water and life is becoming very miserable in these areas. Muhammad Khan, a local shepherd who possessed around 200 cattle heads, has lost 50 of his animals within a short span of a few months due to the drought-like conditions in the coastal areas. He has been grazing the animals for the last 25 years and charges Rs. 100 per month for each goat and sheep from villagers besides getting milk and wool of these animals. Khan is the resident of Deh Mann located 30 km away from Karachi and provides his services to the residents of different villages including Mubarak Village, Manjar Goth, Musa Goth, Haji Khamesa Goth and others. The lack of rain and acute water shortage has caused virtual drought in hundreds of villages of the City, he said while talking to The Nation. He complained that quality of water in most of the villages was fast deteriorating while in several wells it has had turned brackish. Livestock, which is a major source of income in arid zones, had also been badly affected due to the lack of water and vegetation in rural areas of Karachi, he added. It is also learnt that water of 80 per cent of the wells has turned brackish and their water level is also decline gradually. At many places, people and animals are seen drinking water from the same pond, which is causing serious health problems, particularly among children and old people. It was also observed in several villages including Mann, Allah Bano, Lal Bukhar, Chattara, Gabopat, Mubarak Village, Manghopir and Malir that water was accumulated in ponds and people were being forced to buy it. Many families often go to sleep without a single meal in 24 hours. These areas have been without rain for the last several years and most of the wells in the area have either dried up or their water has turned brackish, remarked Mubarak Baloch, Nazim Union Council No. 8 of Kemari Town. He said that water problems would worsen if no rainfall occurs in the near future. The water level has already lowered by 60 to 70 feet and the summer heat would evaporate whatever water is left in the wells, he added. Majority of the villagers in these areas is suffering from tuberculosis and the drought-like situation, unhygienic conditions and lack of sufficient food have further aggravated the situation, said Dr. Allah Bux Brohi, a local private practitioner. It is reported that the persistent drought has forced half of the population of 64 villages to migrate to urban areas in search of fodder and water. The non-availability of these two commodities has perished hundreds of cattle heads while scores of others are suffering from fatal diseases. Muhammad Haroon, a resident of Mubarak Village in Kemari Town, said that women and children were suffering from various diseases due to less water intake and malnutrition as the area had received little rain during the last seven years. People had no facilities like hospitals, schools, potable water and roads in those villages, he added. Women and children have to walk miles to fetch water from places near city areas, he lamented. The dwellers of these villages have appealed to government to take immediate notice of the situation and announce a special package for the drought-hit areas.