ISLAMABAD, Mar 14 (APP):Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Wednesday underlined the need for collective efforts to tackle adverse affects of climate change on water resources and agriculture sector, saying “it is a global issue and has no boundaries.”
“Unfortunately, the least-developed countries, whose contribution to global warming is negligible, are the worst affected by the climate change,” he said while addressing a day-long seminar on “Preparing Rural Communities to cope with Climate Change through South-South and Triangular Cooperation,” organized by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The minister appreciated the IFAD and extended the government’s full support to the organization in tackling future challenges of climate change through the forum of South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
He said the IFAD had significantly contributed for the global agricultural and rural development, adding that Pakistan being one of the founding members of the IFAD, shared great history of cooperation and support with the organization.
“We are aware that rapidly growing population, urbanization and industrialization during the mid-20th century have markedly accelerated the process of global warming resulting in significant changes in global climate. The global temperature has already increased to one degree centigrade (1 0C) between 1961 and 2016 and future projections depict alarming conditions,” Bosan observed.
He said Pakistan was among the top 10 most vulnerable countries, which were sensitive to both increases in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns.
Rising temperatures, he said, would particularly alter bio-physical relationships for crops, livestock, fisheries and forests such as shortening of the growing periods, changing the species patterns, increasing thermal and moisture stresses, increased water requirements, increased glacial lake outburst floods, altering soil characteristics, and increasing the risk of pests and diseases. “The already stressed water resources are very likely to be affected by climate change. Overall water scarcity and increased intensity and frequency of floods and droughts are already visible,” he said.
In order to feed growing population of Pakistan, he said “we will have to learn to grow what we need in a sustainable way – a way that doesn’t continue to destroy our natural resource base.”
Bosan said no other sector was more vulnerable to climate change than agriculture as more than 50 percent of the country’s population was in living areas and was directly or indirectly dependent on agricultural activities.
He said the government was committed to adapt agriculture in various ways by using state of the art climate smart technologies, through sustainable natural resource management, better integrated water resource management and creating climate resilient communities.
“All these initiatives will lead to reduced poverty and will enhance food security at all levels. The initiatives of PM’s Pakistan Greening and Zero Hunger Programs would be the most pertinent initiatives in this regard. We believe that all the stakeholders including farmers’ representatives, NGOs and Civil Society shall contribute and join hands with the Government to address challenges of climate change,” he said.
Minister of State and Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Marvi Memon said the climate change issue was now a reality for all people from east to west and north to south. However, the response to climate change challenge needed to be deliberated international and regionally.
Marvi said she had represented Pakistan internationally at similar conferences organized by World Bank and World Food Programme discussing that how social safety nets could be used to tackle climate change challenges.
Pakistan like other societies, she said, had effectively responded to these challenges by introducing a climate change policy, strengthening institutions, developing and reinforcing infrastructure besides adapting modern sciences and technology practices.
Marvi said she personally saw the damages caused by climate change in rural areas, stressing the need for further acclerating the efforts to mitigate suffering of the vulnerable communities.
She said the BISP took care of most vulnerable communities and established itself, in a short span of 10 years, as one of the top five social safety programmes of the world. “With the budget of $1.21 billion per year, over 3,350 offices nationwide and 2,300 employees, we serve 5.66 million poorest women/households in Pakistan by providing them cash grants.”
Meanwhile, development experts discussed impacts of climate change on water resources in Pakistan and exchanged knowledge on innovative adaptation and mitigation practices so that rural communities and smallholder farmers could increase production and improve household incomes.
According to the IFAD, “in Pakistan, agriculture provides employment for approximately 25 million people. Over the last few decades, Pakistan has suffered from alternating cycles of extreme flooding in irrigated plains and prolonged droughts in its arid zones. Per capita water availability has fallen below 1,200 cubic meters and it is estimated that it will be reduced by half by mid-century. Water security for both agriculture and domestic use is becoming critical, and climate resilience practices need to be transferred to the rural population on an urgent basis.”
“IFAD renews its commitment to working alongside the Government of Pakistan to promote rural transformation, improve rural livelihoods, and increase rural communities’ ability to adapt to the effects of climate change,” IFAD Director Stephane Mousset said.
IFAD Country Programme Manager for Pakistan Hubert Boirard said in Pakistan, significant agricultural production and an increasing population needed sufficient water resources as approximately 90 per cent of the country’s water was used for agriculture.
“IFAD’s work in Pakistan is aligned with the government’s development and policy agenda and is evolving. We are including climate change resilience and water resources management in all of the rural development activities we invest in,” he added.
The IFAD has financed as many as 27 rural development programmes and projects in Pakistan since 1978 “with a total IFAD investment of $730 million or $2.51 billion when co-funding from the Pakistan government and others are included. These projects have directly benefited more than 2.4 million rural households.”