CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES


Climate change issue is not a symbol of fashion anymore but a real beast of the modern era. Though, mostly the developed and industrialized nations are responsible but the consequences are mostly bear by the communities of poor and so called developing countries. Climate change affects the life adversely in all its spheres, like agriculture, livestock, food chain, environment and socio-cultural harmony. Climate change has been affecting social life of the vulnerable societies. The consequences of climate change are now more visible than ever in the form of droughts, flash floods, desertification and introduction of new diseases of all the living organisms.

As, indigenous and local/tribal communities are dependent on the environment and natural resources, hence they are the first prey of the climate change. This close relationship with the earth means that they are often among the first groups to suffer the consequences of climate change. The same was happened in Pakistan in the last drought of ninety’s decade. The consequences appeared in the form of social conflicts and migration, resulted in pressure on the nearby cities and towns.

There are two ways to cope with the climate change scenario, i.e. technological mitigation and adaptation. The later is the best option for developing world as the mechanical mitigation demand very high in puts and results in long run further environmental degradation.

Local/indigenous knowledge and plants & livestock varieties are the best tool to cope with the climate change beast. Local people, especially pastoralists have adapted their own ways to cope with the climate change, though not visible. The pastoralists in horn of Africa; especially afar region (more prone to frequent droughts) had replaced cattle with camel and sheep with goat. Camel is resistant to drought as survive without water and even feed for longer period than any other domestic livestock. Also camel and goat rely on bushes which survive for years of droughts. Grasses, sheep and cattle are the first lump of droughts and disappear very rapidly.

But in Pakistan (Pashtoon land), due to pressure on rangelands resources for fuel wood, especially bushes, the nomads replaced camel with donkeys and tractors. The use of donkey is increased many folds, as donkey is one of the hardies animal and need very low or even zero input.

The climate change resulted in Africa in the form of water shortage. The water sources are now far from the living areas and women fetch water from far and wide areas (fetching of water is women’s duty). Consequently young ladies were not willing to marry in villages and communities. The local old women solved this problem as giving donkey in dowry to young ladies to fetch water.

Unfortunately, the drought could not bring positive response among the agriculture farmers in many countries. The farmers are politically powerful and they converted agriculture from agroecosystems to high in put production system by using electric power and submersible technology to unearth water from the rocks very deep. They could not shift their agriculture to practice the drought resistant local varieties but adapted high yielding hybrid crops (need more water, fertilizer and pesticides, weedicides) resulting in further environmental dilemma.

Suggestions

  • Give local people, especially pastoralist/livestock keepers due recognition in policy and planning
  • The efforts/methodologies of the local people to CCA must be documented
  • Promote farmer-led adaptation to climate change
  • Invest in building the capacity of pastoralists

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