Nepal’s shifting rains and changing crops

By Saleem Shaikh
October 17, 2013
Science and Development News Network International

A short video story on how shifting rains are leading to changing crop patterns.

Watch the climate video story on this weblink: 

A Nepalese mountain farmer, in the scenic panityanki mountain village, packs cauliflower to send them to vegetable market in Kahtmandu, Nepal’s capital. Shaikh

[KATHMANDU] With weather becoming more erratic every year as a result of climate change, Nepali farmers are progressively shifting their approach, turning vast areas of rice paddies into small-scale vegetablefarming. Vegetables are more resilient as they can be hand watered in case of drought. Farmers say that with rains that used to come in April now shifting as late as mid-June, vegetables that can be sown at the time the rains finally fall are now a better investment.

But large parts of their fields now remain uncultivated due to lack of water.

The situation raises concern among experts, who warn that a shift from rice to vegetable cultivation may harm food security. They also say that without adequate support from the government farmers’ livelihood could be at risk. According to researchers, there is now a need for insurance schemes, public subsidies and improved early-warning systems to forecast extreme weather.


Nepal tackles methane emissions through trash recycling

By Saleem Shaikh
October 23, 2013
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Labourers work at the Biocomp-Nepal project site in Khokna, a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Saleem Shaikh

KATHMANDU, Nepal (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Nepal’s capital is recycling organic waste into compost in a bid to reduce methane emissions and provide cheap, environmentally friendly organic fertiliser to local farmers.

The scheme aims to tackle environmental degradation and reduce the health hazards from rotting produce.

Trash is a significant nuisance in Kathmandu, and organic matter accounts for almost 70 percent of the total waste generated daily in the city.

Many neighbourhoods in the capital are dirty and strewn with rubbish. Some markets look scarcely different from garbage dumps and streets are littered with discarded trash. Inadequate waste management in the Kathmandu Valley and a lack of dumps and landfills make the problem worse.

To address the problem, Biocomp-Nepal – a not-for-profit social enterprise –launched a year-long pilot project to recycle organic waste into compost in March 2011 in collaboration withmyclimate, a non-profit foundation based in Zurich. The foundation develops and supports projects around the world to reduce greenhouse gases.

During the pilot, the project collected organic waste every day from the Kalimat market, Kathmandu’s largest wholesale vegetable market, and composted it at a facility in Khokna, a village on the outskirts of the capital.

A total of 140 tons of fresh organic waste was collected and 15 tons of high-quality compost produced. The compost was sold to farmers who cultivate fields on the edges of Kathmandu, but local traders were pleased with the impact too.


“We are extremely happy that the surroundings of our vegetable market no longer get strewn with waste or rotten vegetables discarded in the open outside the market for want of proper dumping sites and … waste collections,” said Pitamber Gurung, a vegetable trader at the Kalimati market.

In January 2013, Biocomp-Nepal expanded its waste processing capacity to 20 tons a day, producing 3 to 4 tons of compost daily, to meet the demand for organic agricultural fertiliser in the Kathmandu valley.

According to Raju Khadka, Biocomp’s former project director in Nepal who now advises the project, the organisation is collaborating with myclimate to increase its collection capacity to 50 tons of vegetables and fruit by 2015, which will produce 7.5 tons of compost daily.

The waste will not just be sourced from vegetable markets such as Kalimati, he explained, but also from landfill sites and homes. The growing collections should help curb emissions of methane – a powerful climate-changing gas – and as well as reducing health problems associated with rotting trash.

Kathamandu Valley is a hub for agriculture due to its fertile and relatively flat land, and the majority of the vegetables sold at the Kalimati market are grown using chemical fertilisers to boost farm productivity.

Compost, a traditional fertiliser in the region, lost ground to chemical fertilisers as they became more widely available on the market, experts say. But the overuse of chemical fertilisers has caused soil fertility to decline globally, according to studies by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

In contrast to chemical fertilisers, compost feeds the soil through its nutrient-rich organic matter. According to Khadka, it maintains soil fertility, reduces acidity, and stops nutrients from being washed away by rain. The compost improves the soil’s ability to let water percolate, helping to recharge underground aquifers and prevent desertification of fertile land, he said.


Krishna Hari has been buying compost from Biocomp-Nepal for the past nine months to use on his land in Kirtipur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

“Before I used the compost fertiliser, I earned 35,000 Nepalese rupees (about $350) a year from my one acre land,” Hari said.

“But using the compost fertiliser has improved my income to 60,000 rupees” by boosting his yields per acre, he explained as he put small packages of compost into a cloth bag hanging from his bike at Biocomp-Nepal’s project site.

The compost is effective for twice as long as chemical fertiliser, according to Hari, and is cheaper too, at a rate of around $70 per ton rather than the $180 per ton for chemical fertiliser. Hari adds that other farmers have noted his improved results and started switching to compost.

Apart from these benefits, recycling vegetable waste into compost reduces methane emissions, said Khadka. Food waste is one of three main sources of methane, along with emissions from livestock and the mining and burning of fossil fuels.

Composting vegetable waste at the expanded rate of 50 tons a day has the potential to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 40,000 tons between 2012 and 2021, according to Khadka.

Biocomp-Nepal hopes to seek carbon credit financing through myclimate to scale up the project and make it self-sustaining.

The organisation also plans to offer training and demonstration sessions to meet the interest of community organisations from other areas of the country that want to create their own organic waste recycling programmes to counter the burden of rising fertiliser prices and address health hazards from decaying produce.

“Waste is a major problem in many cities of developing countries. The project can potentially be replicated in different places in Nepal or elsewhere in South Asia or the Asia-Pacific region where waste is a problem,” said Krishna Chandra Paudel, former secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.


Pakistan’s mountain farmers struggle with erratic weather

By Saleem Shaikh
Thu, 31 Oct 2013
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Short climate video story
Pakistan’s mountain farmers struggle with erratic weather


Farmer Bibi Baskiya describes the sudden cloudburst that damaged her maize crop just a few days from harvest time in Danyore, a village in Gilgit district in Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin area. TRF/Saleem Shaikh

Farmers in north Pakistan valley welcome warmer climate, experts fret

By Saleem Shaikh 
Tue, 8 Oct 2013
AlertNet Climate, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Farmer Shehla Hayat describes how the abrupt shift from summer to winter in the Hunza-Nagar valley in Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin has become a problem for vegetable and fruit farmers like her. TRF/Saleem Shaikh

KARIMABAD, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In the mountains of northern Pakistan, some farmers say rising temperatures are giving them bumper harvests, even as climate and agricultural experts worry about the consequences of warming for the glaciers that are vital for the country’s irrigation.

“Many years back, the weather used to remain cold and cloudy most of the year. But now we have (more) warm months that are helping our staple, cash and fruit crops to grow faster and longer, and post higher yields,” said Sultan Khan, a farmer in Karimabad, a village in the picturesque Hunza valley of Gilgit-Baltistan province.

Farmers in Hunza say maize never used to grow taller than 3 feet (1 metre) during its five-month season (June to October). But a longer growing period and warmer days are helping the stalks reach up to 7 feet (2 metres). The maize yield has increased by an estimated 20-25 percent, they add, and harvests of other crops are also bigger.

Nonetheless, farmers in this remote area also complain that a lack of government guidance has left them uncertain as to whether to adjust their planting schedules to take advantage of the earlier onset of summer, since they do not know if the changes in weather patterns are permanent.

The Hunza valley perches on the north side of the Hunza River in the Upper Indus Basin, some 675 km (420 miles) from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The valley lies at an elevation of around 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) and is surrounded by much higher mountain peaks and glaciers.


Ali Madad, a 76-year-old farmer in Barashal village, said that because of warmer temperatures, glaciers are melting more consistently, which makes his livelihood easier. “Now the streams, which are a major source of irrigation for mountain agriculture, flow even in winter,” he said.

Whereas snow used to begin falling in the valley around mid-October and continue for six months, it now begins in late December and ends a couple of months later, he added.

Temperatures that would fall as low as minus 16 degrees Celsius a dozen years back now rarely drop below minus 2 degrees. Summer, previously a three-month season, has become correspondingly longer, Madad said.

In Karimabad, Sultan Khan observed that winter snowfall is now less than 5 inches, in sharp contrast with the 13 inches or more typical a decade ago.

Local agriculture expert Fida Karim said only the mountain peaks now get covered with snow in winter, while the middle and lower latitudes hardly receive any snowfall. Rakaposhi, a spectacular peak in the Karakoram mountain range and the twelfth highest in Pakistan, has not been completely covered in snow since 2008, he added.

According to Karim, over the last five years, the winter snowfall in the valley has melted in just a few weeks in March. It used to remain until at least the end of April.

The changes experienced by farmers in the Hunza valley are different from those happening elsewhere in Gilgit-Baltistan. In other parts of the province, the winter season both begins and ends later than it used to, delaying the snow melt needed for irrigation and stunting the growth of crops.

But even in the Hunza valley, the changes in the onset of the seasons are a problem for vegetable and fruit farmers like Shehla Hayat.

“Every year in October, the shift from summer to winter used to be gradual. But for the last four years each October, hotter summer days (have) become cooler abruptly,” the 35-year-old farmer said, while harvesting fodder outside her house in Barashal village.

The sudden plunges in temperature, together with unexpected rainfall, have badly affected local crops of apples, apricots, pears and potatoes when they were nearly ripe, causing losses for farmers, Hayat said.


Climate and agricultural experts warn, meanwhile, that the long-term consequences of the rising temperatures and glacial melt could be dire.

Inayat Karim, a mountain farming conservationist at the Baltit Rural Support Organisation in Hunza valley, said the Ultar glacier, which looms over Karimabad to a height of 7,400 metres (24,300 feet), has been shrinking since 1999, and a previously snow-covered peak is now bare.

Shahana Khan of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme said the valley now receives rain as well as snow in the winter months.

“This points to a scary scenario for sustainable flows of the Hunza River,” Khan said, pointing out that declining snowfall will eventually reduce levels in the Hunza River, which accounts for 25-30 percent of the water that flows into the Indus River – in turn vital to much of the nation’s agricultural economy.

There are short-term problems for the Hunza River too. Farmers say it has become increasingly turbulent in recent years due to increased glacial melt in the summer months, which sometimes causes it to breach its banks.

The director general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Arif Mahmood, is concerned by the retreating snowline in the high mountains.

“In the past, mountains in the valleys like Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Shigar in the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) used to receive huge snow in their lower altitude areas, between 2,000 and 3,000 metres. But this is no more the case,” he said.

“There has been a surge in heat wave incidences in UIB areas,” Mahmood continued. “The temperature now goes up beyond 40 degrees Celsius in summer as compared to (an earlier) maximum of 28 degree Celsius some 10 years ago.”

There has also been an unusual shift in monsoon patterns, which are becoming heavier and moving to higher altitudes, he added.

Mahmood warned of increasing flash floods and landslides in the UIB region if temperature increases continue.

The senior weather official called for urgent action to make public infrastructure more climate-resilient, such as strengthening river banks and bridges, and to introduce new crop varieties. Otherwise, local communities will be increasingly threatened by torrential rains, floods and wildfires, he warned.


Pakistan’s mountain farmers ‘helpless’ in face of erratic weather

By Saleem Shaikh 
Thu, 3 Oct 2013 01:03 PM
AlertNet Climate, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Farmer Bibi Baskiya describes the sudden cloudburst that damaged her maize crop just a few days from harvest time in Danyore, a village in Gilgit district in Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin area. TRF/Saleem Shaikh

DANYORE, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – One night was all it took for Bibi Baskiya’s fortunes to be reversed. In June the young farmer had sown maize on half an acre of land in Danyore, a scenic mountain village in northern Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan province.

On Sept. 12 it was sunny and the skies were so clear that Baskiya watered her crop from a nearby spring, certain there would be no rain. But that night, her hopes of a good harvest were destroyed.

“A sudden rainstorm and heavy winds flattened 80 percent of the standing crop,” she said. The maize is now only good to be used as fodder for her cattle, and she will not recover the cost of cultivating it.

Baskiya is one of many farmers in this remote region whose livelihoods are threatened by the effects of erratic weather and climate change. Experts say measures are desperately needed to help them adapt to unreliable rainfall, but few – if any – are available so far.

“We farmers are really helpless before the inconsistent weather,” said Baskiya. “We are thinking to abandon growing maize and wheat, and cultivate cash crops like tomato and potato instead that are short-duration and less water-intensive.”

Maize is the most important summer crop after wheat in northern Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin (UIB). The grain is harvested to eat, while the stover (dried stalks and leaves) is used to feed livestock during the winter.

“Owing to erratic weather patterns, the area under the staple crops in most of Gilgit-Baltistan province in UIB has shrunk alarmingly, and vegetables are now being grown as cash crops,” said Asmat Ali, director of the province’s agriculture department.

An estimated 70 percent of the wheat consumed locally must now be imported from Punjab province in eastern Pakistan and Sindh in the south, Ali added.


Cash crop farmers are also suffering the consequences of extreme weather.

Ali Da’ad, 50, a vegetable farmer in Danyore, said his potato and tomato crops have been struck by lightning several times.

“There has been a significant escalation in lightning activity and thunderstorms over the last 10 years, particularly during summer months,” Da’ad said.

The lightning has triggered fires, damaging crops and endangering populated areas. At the same time, rainfall is increasingly unpredictable, causing crops to fail.

“In Gilgit district, rains are no longer even and fall patchily during the summer months,” Da’ad explained. “Sometimes it is intense and sometimes not.”

Muhammad Iqbal, chairman of Local Support Organisation Danyore (LSO-D), a nongovernmental group working for rural development, said rains are unequal even within Danyore village. “When it rains in the eastern part of the village, the west remains without it,” he said.


Gilgit-Baltistan is home to the world’s largest frozen water reservoir, which feeds the Indus river system – a lifeline for Pakistan’s agro-based economy.

Farmers in the province depend on melting snow from April onwards to replenish streams, enabling them to sow seasonal vegetables and maize from late May. But Da’ad said prolonged winter weather is causing the snows to melt later, making it difficult to plant crops in time.

Nek Parveen of LSO-D said this year streams filled 50 days later than expected.

“Women wheat farmers in Sultanabad village (adjacent to Danyore) suffered substantial financial losses early this April, as they had to prematurely harvest after farmers sensed (the crop’s) growth had halted,” Parveen said.

According to Ghulam Rasul, a scientist at the state-owned Pakistan Meteorology Department in Islamabad, rainfall in the province has become less frequent but more intense over the past 50 years.

The decrease in winter precipitation and snowfall due to rising temperatures in the area is affecting Pakistan’s hydrological cycle and hampering the country’s agricultural growth, Rasul said.

“Investing in farmers’ climate adaptation capacity building and knowledge development can help them cope with impacts of climatic variability on their crops,” said LSO-D’s Iqbal.


Iqbal sees a need for the construction of small or medium-sized reservoirs in the foothills and plains, so that water from streams can be harvested for use during the dry season and the winter, both for farming and domestic purposes.

But there has been little progress in the province so far, where development agencies are hampered by the inaccessibility of much of the terrain, political inertia, and a volatile security situation due to conflict between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim sects.

Jamil Uddin, who manages programmes in the Gilgit region for the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), said his organisation plans to introduce climate mitigation and adaptation measures for the province’s farmers.

“Our experiences show that information-sharing programmes for mountain farmers and communities about better, proven adaptation and mitigation measures can enable (them) to cope with the aftermath of rapidly occurring climatic variability,” he said.

The AKRSP hopes to bring climate-resilient crop varieties and water conservation technologies to farmers.

According to LSO-D’s Iqbal, transmitting weather forecasts via FM radio and free SMS texts on mobile phones would help farmers, who now rely on indigenous techniques that are increasingly inaccurate as weather patterns become harder to predict.

Iqbal emphasised that helping mountain farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change is vital to support the livelihoods of rural people and maintain an acceptable level of food security.

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio are climate change and development reporters based in Islamabad, Pakistan.


Pakistan’s crop yields hit by erratic rainfall

Saleem Shaikh
Science and Development News Network International
September 09, 2013
In his short climate video documentary, Saleem Shaikh reports on how changing rainfall patterns have been devastating crop yields for farmers in Pakistan. 

Alternative weblink:

Pakistan’s crop yields hit by erratic rainfall. Photo credit: Saleem Shaikh

Solar traffic signals help Pakistan tackle road jams

Saleem Shaikh
Thomson Reuters Foundation – Wed, 4 Sep 2013

A solar-powered traffic signal installed at the Aabpara intersection in Islamabad is helping manage traffic congestation. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Saleem Shaikh.


ISLAMABAD (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Business has picked up for Abdul Latif, and he credits to an eco-innovation in Pakistan’s capital: the solar-powered traffic signal.

Latif runs a shoe shop in Aabpara, a bustling main shopping area in an upscale sector of the heart of Islamabad.

The traffic signal at the Aabpara intersection used to regularly fall dark because of frequent and protracted power failures, causing massive traffic jams on the road that passes by his shop.

“The traffic jam had become a nuisance equally for shoppers and shop owners in the market. Customers would avoid coming to the market for fear that they would become entangled,” he said. “Business activities were suffering seriously.”

But the installation of solar-powered traffic signals has resolved the problem and business is now booming again, a happy Latif told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Traffic jams on Islamabad’s main arteries and at intersections have become routine in the power-starved capital, which sees regular power outages, particularly when energy demand is high. Outages can lead to traffic signals going dark for hours, leading to massive traffic snarls.

But in July, the city’s Capital Development Authority launched a pilot project to power traffic signals using solar panels. Solar-powered signals are now working at the Aabpara roundabout and at two other busy locations in the city.

Officials at the Authority’s engineering wing said that if the pilot project is effective, the solar-powered signals would be installed at more intersections or roundabouts where traffic jams are a serious problem when the signals go dark.

Navid Hassan Bokhari, director of solar energy affairs for the Pakistan Alternative Energy Development Board, said board had put together a plan to install solar panels at 25 traffic signals in Islamabad.


Frustrated traders, fed-up drivers and exhausted traffic wardens welcomed the changes.

“When traffic signals shut down during load-shedding hours, it is the wardens who have to handle vehicular traffic congestation for hours, said Bilal Raza, a 45-year-old traffic warden, standing beneath the solar-powered traffic signal at the Aabpara roundabout.

The solar-powered signals are “helping us manage traffic jams that are a nightmare for us,” he said.

Jacob Joseph, who runs a smartphone shop at the Jinnah Super market in another upscale residential and commercial sector, said he believed solar traffic signals could help manage business-destroying congestion at a range of shopping areas across the city.

Hit by worsening power crises, the country’s other provinces, such as Sindh and Punjab, also are mulling installing solar traffic signals and street lights.

Saeed Akhtar, chief engineer for Punjab province’s Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency told Thomson Reuters Foundation over the telephone from Lahore that contracts have been signed with three local firms for the conversion of traffic signals to solar power at five road intersections in Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province.

The costs of installing solar panels will be paid for by private firms in return for small advertisements at the signals, noting which firm had backed the project, he said.

Akthar said his department is in touch with different potential corporate sponsors to fund installation and maintenance of solar panels at all 138 traffic signals.

If the plan works, it “will help address our aggravating traffic mess without becoming any financial burden on the government’s pocket,” he maintained.

Pakistan is grappled with one of the worst energy crises in its history, with around a 4,000-megawatt shortfall. Authorities hope that can be plugged by tapping into Pakistan’s huge solar energy potential.

Right now, Pakistan uses only 7 megawatts of solar power, out of its estimated potential of 2.9 million megawatts, Gholamreza Zahedi, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, told Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email interview.

He said that attracting local investments in small- and medium-size renewable energy plans and launching local manufacturing of basic components, with the help of European countries and China, which have more advanced renewable technology, could make a big difference in expanding Pakistan’s solar energy production.

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio are climate change and development reporters based in Islamabad, Pakistan.


Pakistan’s Punjab builds model villages to withstand disasters

Saleem Shaikh
Thomson Reuters Foundation – Thu, 22 Aug 2013

A model village after construction in flood-prone Dera Ghazi Khan district, Punjab province, Pakistan. PHOTO/Punjab Disaster Management Authority

DERA GHAZI KHAN, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Ayesha Fatima, a 29-year-old widow with two small children, burst into tears of delight when she was handed the key and ownership papers for her new home, a two-room, single-storey, disaster-resilient brick building.

Her former home, a mud-brick house, was washed away by devastating floods in 2010, forcing the family to flee for their lives, abandoning everything they owned except two goats.

While living in a makeshift tent outside a nearby primary school, Fatima’s husband died of pneumonia and she was reduced to begging to survive, she told Thomson Reuters Foundation in muted tones.

The village where Fatima now lives – ‘Basti Hote Lashari’ in Taunsa town in Dera Ghazi Khan district, 405 km (250 miles) from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad – is one of 22 model villages built to replace homes washed away by the floods.

Constructed with private-sector funds and technical expertise, the houses are strong and designed to withstand earthquakes and extreme climate events, including floods, as part of a “climate-compatible development” initiative by the Punjab provincial government.

Climate-compatible development focuses on “triple win” strategies that limit greenhouse gas emissions, build resilience and promote development at the same time.

Parts of Punjab have been hit yet again by monsoon flooding in recent weeks, underlining the need for measures like these to protect people, property and crops from natural hazards.

When Fatima moved into her new home, in June 2011, her role as the family breadwinner was transformed by the gift of two buffalos.

“I earn Rs800 ($8) a day by selling nine litres of buffalo milk and this is enough to feed my two children,” she said happily, while milking one of the animals. “My children have also resumed going to school in the model village.”

Thousands of other poor families also lost their homes to the 2010 floods, the worst in Pakistan’s history, which tore through Fatima’s village early one morning after days of torrential rain.

She was woken by a huge uproar and the cries of villagers: “Wake up … wake up, people … Floodwater is coming!”

“When I came out of my room, the gushing floodwater was just minutes away from our home. Getting hold of my two children and two goats, I fled to the higher ground along with my 54-year-old husband. We left everything behind to the floods,” she explained.

The family spent 45 days in a school building on higher ground. When she returned, she could see only mud bricks strewn around where her home had stood.


Some 1.9 million houses were damaged or destroyed by the 2010 monsoon floods, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. Around 2,000 people died and over 20 million were affected, more than one-tenth of the population, from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea.

The World Bank calculated the economic damage at over $9 billion.

With financial support from the non-government and corporate sectors, the Punjab government has built 22 disaster-resilient showcase villages in seven of the severely affected districts, drawing on expertise from two private firms, National Engineering Services Pakistan and Associated Consulting Engineers.

The villages, costing nearly Rs1.35 billion, contain 1,885 single-storey homes, which have been handed over to people who lost their houses in the 2010 floods. The villages have schools, health centres and other community infrastructure, replacing what the floods destroyed.

“These will show how such villages can be better planned, built to higher standards and with improved community infrastructure and facilities. Other facilities are biogas plants, solar energy systems, livestock sheds, covered sewerage, brick-paved streets, parks, play areas, markets and community centres,” said Mujahid Sherdil, director-general of the Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).

“The corporate sector played a pivotal part by extending support in both cash and in kind for the construction of disaster-resilient houses,” he added.

Sherdil told Thomson Reuters Foundation from his office in Lahore, the provincial capital, that public relief operations after disasters were often delayed by lack of funds, but that businesses could play a bigger role by immediately making financial contributions to meet aid needs under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.

The private sector’s role in post-disaster reconstruction in 2010 showed it can help society cope with disasters, as well as providing resources, expertise and essential services for rebuilding afterwards, he said.


Dina Khan, manager of climate-compatible development projects in Pakistan for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), told Thomson Reuters Foundation the Punjab PDMA had asked her organisation to help it incorporate climate resiliency into its post-disaster reconstruction efforts.

CDKN in turn uses management and engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald to prepare guidelines on reconstruction in hazard-prone areas of the province, and to assess the climate compatibility of model villages being built.

Arif Hasan, an independent architect, said this kind of approach addresses the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, use fewer resources and put up buildings that can withstand weather-related disasters.

“There is an urgent need for implementation of such guidelines in highly disaster-prone Pakistan that will help the country adopt climate-resilient construction methods in disaster-prone areas,” he added.

Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, CDKN’s Asia director based in Islamabad, said Pakistan has inadequate guidelines for disaster risk reduction in the construction sector.

It is hoped the climate-compatible development initiative will pave the way for the country to adopt an effective national policy, and give the rural poor and local decision-makers the knowledge they need to reduce the impact of future disasters, he said.

“The Punjab government asked CDKN to help ‘build back better’ after the devastating floods in 2010,” he said. “Not only is this a strategic project for Pakistan, it is also a test case for climate-compatible development that promises to offer lessons for the international community.”

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio are climate change and development reporters based in Islamabad, Pakistan