Text and photos by Amar Guriro
The reducing annual rainfall, environmental degradation and climate change have decreased the flow in the Indus River, which is supposed to be Pakistan’s lifeline. Due to the reduced flow in downstream Kotri, the people living in the Sindh’s coastal belt that is spread from Karachi to Badin are suffering due to acute water shortage.
The water shortage has not only affected fishing – the main source of livelihood in the coastal belt, but the residents of several small coastal villages are unable to find potable water.
This scribe visited these areas, starting the journey from Kharo Chhan, district Thatta. After travelling for almost three hours from the district headquarter town of Thatta, This scribe came across a huge river flowing in full swing. Initially it appeared if it was the mighty Indus River, but the residents said that it was seawater flowing upstream.
On the other side of the river, the village Haji Yusuf Katiyar – a traditional fishermen’s hamlet – is located. Built with local architecture, the wooden huts presented a dazzling scene.
This scribe sat in a small wooden boat to travel to the village. The village was once located about 80 kilometres away from the sea, but due to the absence of flow in Indus River; seawater has started flowing flow upstream just beside the village, where once the Indus flowed. Almost every resident of this traditional hamlet is a professional fisherman. Fishing is their ancestral profession.
Since childhood, they leave for deep-sea fishing and they stay at the sea for several days, during which they have to take food and water with them. Due to the shortage, the cost of routine fishing has increased, and they have to buy water for their voyages. As this scribe reached the village, a large number of children, most of them half naked, with a strange spark in their eyes, were the first ones to greet.
Some of these children were playing in front of an iron signboard, which said that a local NGO has started a project to provide potable water to the village in collaboration with a national level donor. But nothing has so far been done.
Comprising over 200 households, the village presented a picture of the pain that its residents feel everyday. The ground water was once suitable for human consumption when Indus River used to flow near the area. But since the seawater has reached near the village, the ground water became brackish and unfit for human consumption. Villagers either have to use the contaminated seawater using hand pumps or have to travel 30 kilometres to bring canal water.
An elderly chieftain of the village, after whom the village has its name, Haji Yusuf, demanded the government to provide canal water to the village. He said that the nearest source of canal water is located just a few kilometres out of the village and it would not be a major task for the government to facilitate them in the provision of potable water.
Monday, September 14, 2009