KARACHI - Thar area of Sindh is facing severe drought for consecutively third year as the situation is grim but no measures have been taken by the provincial government to provide water, food and medical assistance to the people of Thar.

This was unveiled at a provincial dialogue on “Thar Droughts and Effects” organised by National Humanitarian Network (NHN) at a local hotel on Monday.

A total of 33 suicides are recorded in current year in Thar area which is known as peaceful area in the province. It showed the severe situation of poverty and drought, causing people to commit suicides. The situation required timely measures by the government, said researcher and social activist Ali Akbar Rahimoo.

He said the Sindh Drought Mitigation and Management Policy 2014 was in final process of legislation but due to the third consecutive year of drought in Thar, the situation was turning from bad to worst.

Rahimoo referred a research conducted by Association for Water, Applied Education and Renewable Energy. He told that there were 33 suicide cases recorded in first seven months of 2014, whereas in 2013 the figure was 29, in 2012 it was 35 and in 2011 the total suicide cases reported from Tharparkar district was 24.

He said providing 100-kg wheat to a drought family was neither sufficient for a family nor it was a solution to the worsening situation.

Dr Sono Khagharani said as result of consistent droughts, indigenous poor people were more affected and there was a need to save human lives as well as the livestock which was a source of nutrition and livelihood as well as their major asset. He emphasised that food, medicines and fodder must be provided on priority basis to the people of Thar.

Dr Wali Muhammad from World Health Organisation said insisted of mapping the existing resources, mobilise them on war footings to save the vulnerable groups of population including infants, lactating mothers and old age persons. He suggested strengthening of the health system. All secondary level stakeholders should come up with their plans and to combat the situation otherwise it could be tuned like previous year.

Sartaj Abbasi, provincial coordinator of NHN Sindh chapter, said the situation in Thar including other arid areas of Sindh was still the same. Sindh government should take timely efforts instead of lingering on, delaying relief and only mentioning that policy is in process.

Shah Jahan Baloch of ActinAid Pakistan said Sindh government should initiate emergency assistance to the effected people as per the existing policy instead of taking too much time for new legislation because it was a humanitarian issue.

Dr Salman Safdar from UNOCHA said in last drought of Thar, the UN had not played any major role because the government has not raised an appeal to the UN for assistance.

Raheema Panhwar of SPO, Fakhira Abro, GR Baloch, Dodo Chandio and others also shared their views on the occasion.

The dialogue was attended by the representatives of civil society organisations, officials of Sindh government, social activists, media persons, INGOs and local NGOs’ activists.

It may be noted that a total of 1,175 deaths were recorded including the deaths of 610 children during the consecutive drought in last two and half years in Thar Desert of the Sindh.

In 2014, Tharparkar received sporadic rainfall in 20 per cent of its geographic area and total precipitation is 160mm which is not enough to plow fields as well as growing grasses.