LEAD Pakistan realizes that climate change will indisputably have wide-ranging effects on the environment and socio-economic status of populations, especially in water resources, agriculture and food security, human health, terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity and coastal zones.
Keeping this in mind, LEAD Pakistan’s actions and interventions will focus on these key areas that are affected because of climate change:
The Roles & Capacities of Actors in Water Conflicts in Pakistan: A Mapping Study – Oct-Dec 2008
Agriculture and Food Security
Climate Change enhances the susceptibility of agricultural zones to episodic natural catastrophes such as storms, floods and droughts, in turn exposing countries to the threat of socio-economic losses. The multi-functionality of agriculture is a recognized feature of Pakistan’s socio-economic system. These observations confirm findings from studies that have demonstrated a sensitivity of cereal and tree crop to changes in temperature and moisture. With just a 1oC rise in temperature, wheat yield in Pakistan is estimated to decline by 6-9%. Even lower temperature rises can severely impact cash crops like mango and cotton.
In view of the forecasts for future food security, water quality, increasing heat stress and growing frequency of natural disasters, the direct implications of Climate Change for human health are daunting. Furthermore, vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, typhoid and cholera that are already a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in Pakistan are climate sensitive and known to thrive in warmer regions. An increase in epidemic potential of 12-27 per cent for malaria and 31-47 per cent for dengue is anticipated as a consequence of climate change.
The cost of health in Pakistan, which already exceeds one billion US dollars, will keep escalating with the projected climatic changes, and further impact poverty reduction and health improvement targets of the country. Moreover, increasing prevalence of disease in the region has consequences for food security as well: an increasing prevalence of certain types of diseases and ailments among livestock has been observed in the country as an effect of rising temperatures.
In recent years, enormous pressures have been put on Pakistan’s ecosystems to support the ever-growing demand for natural resources. The most affected areas are coastal and marine ecosystems, forests and mountainous regions and the flora and fauna within them. Climate change will have a profound effect on the future distribution, productivity, and health of forests. Grassland productivity is expected to decline by at least 40 per cent for an increase in temperature of 2 – 3° C, combined with reduced precipitation in the semi-arid and arid regions of Asia.
Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems
The climatic and agro-agriculture zones in Pakistan are as sensitive as they are diverse and some are already under threat of extinction as a consequence of global warming. At particular risk from the ecological dis-equilibrium are populations in marginal zones, coastal/maritime, mountain and arid areas. Those living in coastal zones are even more vulnerable. Swelling sea levels on the 990 km coastline coupled with rising sea surface temperatures could potentially wreak havoc on many coastal towns and cities. Coastal Karachi, Pakistan’s largest urban center, is increasingly subjected to floods and storms, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people. The survival of important coastal ecosystems like mangrove swamps is also under threat with the intrusion of saline water and rising temperature. The loss of mangroves not only weakens the protection from floods but also destroys the habitat of various species residing within the swamps, some of which are sources of livelihood for poor communities engaging in sustainable fishing.
Besides the long-term effects of climate change, as above, there has also been a recorded, dramatic increase in the number and scale of extreme, weather-related events. The British Government (DFID) notes that, ‘Climate change is resulting in an increase in the frequency and severity of climatic extremes, which increases the frequency of weather-related disasters. Climate change hits the poor hardest and the greatest impacts are likely to be on food security, the productivity of agricultural export crops, health, water security and quality. It is also likely to result in the displacement of people.’
Weather-related disasters from less than 200 every year in the decades of 1980s and 1990s, rose to one every day on average between 2000 and 2006. Over the past 10 years, weather-related disasters have affected 2.5 billion people. 98% of those killed in natural disasters across the world are in developing countries, underlining the link between vulnerability to disasters and poverty.
Typically, many resources are spent after disasters, rather than trying to prevent the damage they cost by helping the poor to adapt. Not enough is being done globally to adapt to the effects of climate change and prevent weather-related extreme events from turning into human disasters. To-date, there has been no systematic mapping or trend-analysis of weather-related natural disasters in Pakistan.
Gender, Youth, and Good
Within these tiers, LEAD Pakistan works on cross-cutting
themes including gender sensitivity, good governance and
diversity. LEAD Pakistan’s Climate Action Programme will
build on key strengths to ensure diversity and
multi-stakeholder engagement, especially including gender
and youth perspectives.