International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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An Overview of the Management and Mitigation of Drought in Balochistan-Pakistan

Safdar Ali Shirazi

Department of Geography, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan


Drought is predominately a natural phenomenon with socioeconomic dimensions and is responsible for causing severe consequences on food security, livestock production, environment and natural resources. The incidence of drought in Pakistan is becoming increasingly common during recent past due to low and erratic rainfalls. Pakistan is predominantly arid with low rainfall and higher solar radiation over most parts of the country. Because of the long latitudinal extent from 24˚N to 37˚N, the country has a diversified climate, which consists mostly of arid and semi-arid regions. Rainfall is significantly low in the country as a whole with few exceptions and the average annual precipitation in Balochistan is about 160 mm as compared to 630 mm in NWFP province. Even a small negative deviation from this low mean rainfall creates additional water scarcity in the province of Balochistan and makes it more vulnerable to droughts. Balochistan, the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan, spreads over an area of 347,220 Sq, Kms. forming 43.6 per cent of the total area of Pakistan. It has clustered population and is smallest in proportion as compared to that of other provinces. Its population, according to 2005 estimates, is around 8.9 million, having a low density per square kilometer. Physically, Balochistan is an extensive plateau of rough terrain divided into basins by ranges of sufficient heights and ruggedness. The provinces of Balochistan along with Sindh and few areas of Punjab are more vulnerable to droughts. The present paper deals with the last drought (1997-2001) which struck Balochistan. After reviewing the impacts of draught in the province and to mitigate this natural phenomenon this paper suggests establishing an early warning systems aiming at picking up the forecast information by the government agencies and its dissemination to communities through NGOs/CBOs, to evolve a vulnerability assessment grid, to gather reliable data and dissemination of information, to develop drought management capacity, to identify drought management issues, to fix drought management responsibilities and to establish  national coordinator drought management system.