LEADing the Way in Implementing New Adaptive Practices to Combat Climate Vulnerability
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Climate Change has been affecting every sector which in turn directly impacts the livelihood. Drastic and erratic change in monsoon patterns can be observed past decade. Every flooding river from Himalayas brings devastation to river basins and adjacent low lying areas. More precipitation spells in shorter time is causing huge damage to agriculture. Two things prominently could be observed – First is the increased frequency of riverine floods resulting in greater erosion and consequent loss of land to River Indus. The second is damage to agricultural land caused by post-flood debris. The latter is mostly in the form of sand deposits and causes delays and difficulties in the sowing of wheat.

In Basti Chawali, some households have lost up to 3-4 acres of agricultural land due to a combination of land loss and sand deposits, the latter making it difficult to prepare land and causing delays in sowing. Given that a majority of farmers in the represented UCs are small to medium landowning farmers, this represents a substantial loss of income. With the loss of land to the river coupled with sand deposits on remaining land, farmer started turning to vegetable farming on smaller parcels, mostly pumpkins, which would fetch them meagre revenue.

Furthermore, for those households that also suffer physical damage to dwellings, a substantial amount of monetary and non-monetary investment goes into reconstruction and plastering, which is a further drain on already reduced income. As a result, indebtedness is on the rise giving encouragement that crime (mostly petty theft) is also on the rise.  For these households, a related problem is reduced access to credit. Some households situated in the floodplains are no longer able to get loans from informal lenders due to the threat posed by flooding. Thus, for informal money lenders the risk of lending to households in low-lying areas has increased with the increased frequency of floods.

Previous investments in Adaptation include Early Warning Systems (EWS) for floods helping timely evacuation of people and livestock, as well as an emergency food plan in case of a disaster. A baseline survey for community infrastructure improvement showed that in the 2010 floods, 47% of Rajanpur district suffered complete destruction of dwellings, with another 25% suffering from partial damage (BSCIIP, 2011). The same survey revealed that for about 47% of households, damage to crops in terms of monetary loss was up to PKR 50,000; for 21.1% it was between PKR 50,000 – 100,000; and for another 26.3% it was above PKR 250,000. Thus the physical damage to property and livelihood sources has been acute in district Rajanpur. From the LEAD-Pakistan and Oxfam Novib Vulnerability Assessment of Rajanpur, 76% of respondents claimed that they had not received any information regarding new farming techniques or technologies from government or private agricultural extension.

LEAD Pakistan, has taken a leading step to make community adapt the vulnerable situation by introducing strategic afforestation and post flood tillage to reduce soil erosion and impact of sand deposit.

About the coping, adaptation strategy and Co-Benefits

Communities faced loss in agricultural land and loss in income owing to which it was necessary to have a have a short to medium term benefit in averting soil erosion as well as finding solutions for farmers who have not found the right technical solutions to carrying on with their livelihood options.  In the medium to long term the interventions will help diversify economic activity.

Main problem which were to be addressed were Soil Erosion due to floods, economic empowerment by diversifying income sources and gaps in technical knowledge dealing with post-flood agriculture conditions.

In January 2016, LEAD-Pakistan came up with funding support from Oxfam Novib. LEAD, Along with the help of Government bodies like District forest office, Agri Extension Office, Rajanpur and Indus Consortium started initiative to reduce impact on the lives of farmers using new scientific knowledge for post flood agriculture practices.

Existing agricultural labors, women were as supportive as men with greater level of enthusiasm in implementation of interventions. But community elders can be seen as driving force behind the acceptance and implementation.

Being part of a long term initiative it will generate alternative livelihood sources. Also,

  1. A total of 2500 trees planted in collaboration with 100 households. These were predominantly fruit trees to incentivize their protection and generate an alternative economic activity. These were planted on land vulnerable to flood intrusion.
  2. 25 farmers trained in post-flood sowing techniques to reduce impact of excess water and sand. These would then act as trainers for other farmers in the area.

Lessons Learnt

  • Communities are not very trustful of the government. Any interventions needs to be explained in a way that brings in the role of the government at a later stage.
  • Without Community ownership, Adaptation Plans cannot succeed. Building a role for the community members in actually designing and implementing the plans is crucial to its success.

Challenges and way forward

  • Getting the government departments to participate and own the process of designing

and implementing the Adaptation Plans.

Making sure that trees would be protected by the community itself so that they achieve the dual target of preventing soil erosion and generating an alternative livelihood source.

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The case studies compendium research and coordination was supported with funding and technical input by Oxfam through its Asia Resilience Hub.

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