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.