In the search of maroris


In the search of maroris


This story portrays the life of poverty stricken coastal children, who collect maroris (local name), an eatable item looks like a tinny bamboo covered with shelf, live inside narrow burrows in the sea mud. Catching crabs and collecting marori– a family of precious sea snails– from the mangroves plants and muddy area near the isolated beaches is attractive job for minor children of fishermen community. Mostly these children themselves are bread earners of their poor families.

These marine species provide better source of livelihood to a large number of children living at the isolated islands off the Karachi beaches.

Several children originally belong to coastal villages of Karachi, live with relatives at far off island villages and work as daily wager, collecting such items for middlemen, who supply the same to the local market. Mostly boys drop salt into the mouth of scattered burrows with small stick and marori comes out rapidly, which they collect.

These boys and girls travel long distance in the search of crabs and sometimes spend whole day to collect maroris from the far off beaches, because they have almost emptied the nearby beaches.

They said these unaware children do not know how they are destroying their own resources. Greedy traders offer sufficient amount to children, engaging them to collect everything that is available near beaches and their abodes. These children should be enrolled in schools to save their future, but the reason these children themselves narrate is that majority of them belongs to poor families and themselves are bread earners.

Some of the elders living at the islands said crabs and snails are sea creatures, to whom they never tried to destroy, calling it natural wealth. But now the poverty has compelled many people, who if not catch more fish, engage their children to collect maroris. He said at beaches like Karachi, there are no maroris visible. These are far off beaches near mangroves forests and muddy island zones.  According to the community elders snails keep the sea water clean.

Middlemen visiting there frequently buy such items, paying Rs25 per kg to children. But at the village jetties they resell the same item costly, at Rs125–175 per kg. Sharing their experience, elders say, there is a chain of this trade and marori is a valuable item, attracts foreign market.

There are some warehouses and small factories near coastal villages of Ibrahim Hydri and Rehri, in which women and children boil these sea species and get stuff, which after processing and packing is being exported to other countries.

Elder community people recalling the past blissful days say maroris were available at the all beaches for long but they never collected it. Now the poverty, declining fish catch and joblessness have forced the community youth to collect it for the sell.

Dams and its impacts on ecology


Dams and its impacts on ecology


This story focuses on the movement for restoration of rivers, launched by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), which presently possess the secretariat of the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP). Under its keep rivers free movement, PFF initiated 14-Day Caravan from Jamshoro bridge, Hyderabad on March 1, 2013, which culminated in Islamabad on 14th, where a large number of participants, hailing from different fresh water bodies of Punjab and Khyber Pukhtoon Khuwa provinces gathered to celebrate the International Day of Action for Rivers and against dams.

The objectives of caravan include to motivate the people of other provinces, who are affected by dams and have seen ecology loss around them.

The story comprises observations and difference within the ruling elites and common people. It was observed that educated people from Punjab province support dams, believing it will benefit for generating cheap energy, while the people of tail end areas of Sindh plead the dams have destroyed the ecology and grabbed at least three million acres of land in Indus Delta and caused widely displacement of the locals.

I was with the caravan in Lahore and then in Islamabad where intellectuals and political activists had justification, ignoring the biodiversity, destruction of forests and wanting to see cheap energy through dams. This was the first time the people of Sindh changed their perception about majority of journalists, political activists and even environmental writers and civil society, who stayed aloof while the 14-day caravan was crossing the towns and cities to express what they want.

Some of the development sector and political activists came to express solidarity with the caravan participants and those opposing dams. But none of them dared to deliver speech. All the rivers, except River Indus in Punjab have almost dried and it is the question for the people of Punjab to ask their rulers or at least support the anti-dam movements. Because there is no news about the communities depending on these water resources (rivers) for their livelihood.

Gardner and Roses


Malhi and Gulab –Gardners and Roses


This story focuses the issue of increasing trend of urbanization, grabbing the most fertile land, specifically the land of once scenic rose gardens located near Hyderabad city which are declining fast. The famous rose growers either are selling their land to builders for urbanization or replacing the rose plants with other crops, depriving people of these scenes, which they used to visit frequently, hardly a few years back.

The theme is taken from the rose gardens, growers and then I interviewed rose sellers, who have different stories to tell: “how the trend of selling or buying fresh roses is declining and why the people prefer to have artificial rose, bouquets at their homes or worship places. Even youth offers artificial rose gifts to their loved ones on the occasion of Valentine Day.”

These are the points rose growers and traders narrate during talks.

The specific area near Hyderabad city was known as rose gardens because, growers say, the weather is pleasant for this beautiful plants and their product. It was the major market of the country, Pakistan till 25–30 years back, which used to supply truck loads daily to different cities. Water shortage is also the reason for cutting plants to have alternate. And now the area has declined for the reason mentioned above.

Growers say the artificial rose bouquets have dominated the urban market and looking no option they are changing the mind to have another crop to grow there.

However, 64-year old gardener Qadir Bakhsh Mallah says his great grandfather started this crop cultivation, and then his grandfather, his father, he himself and now his son continued to keep the rose gardens intact and is still optimistic to see the prosperous market for the product.

Impacts of changing weather on communities living at islands inside reservoir



Impacts of changing weather on communities living at islands inside reservoir


This story depicts the impacts of dam on the life and livelihoods of the desert communities living at the 14 small island villages, located inside Chotiari Reservoir.

Mostly, these people residing there through their forefathers depend on herds grazing and fishing. The villagers fear that erosion by the reservoir water may deplete islands and cause their displacement soon. Recalling the past, they say that they were living a happy life long before the development of Chotiari reservoir. But now it seems their lives and sources of living are at stake.

Elderly people of these island villages are eye witness of the changing weather pattern, depleting grazing fields and its impacts on their life.

The reservoir covered a huge complex of scattered lakes in the desert area.

Before developing reservoir for irrigating lands of some influential people in Umerkot district, the fishermen had small boats using for their livelihood. Now only a small number of fishermen have replaced their tinny boats with bigger ones to continue their livelihood. Otherwise, majority of fishermen still use small boats and harvest nets near the bank of the reservoir. They have valid reason of staying away from entering the reservoir to avoid any loss.

Looking to these threats some families have started migrating to other fresh water bodies in Punjab and Khyber Pukhtoon Khuwa provinces to ease their families there. This trend is increasing because of erosion. But the case of herdsmen is quite different as they have herds of cows, goats and camels living at scattered islands in the reservoir through forefathers. They do not have a place where they can shift their herds and live safely to continue their family occupation.

The islands spread over five—10 sq kilometer area are attractive for these herdsmen families, where herds move to the area without shepherded and return at the evening. There is no law and order situation.

The other problem these people are facing is building of roads from the sand dunes for oil and gas exploring companies. These firms’ officials use dynamite and such devises, which cause disturbing livestock and wildlife species. Sometimes these animals leave the area in fear after trembling earth.

Herdsmen sharing their experiences say that sometimes they face problems, while they do not receive their animals and travel long distance to trace them.