Urgent Environmental Policy Needed: Zakia

Urgent environmental policy needed: Zakia

LAHORE, Feb 1 (Pakistan Point News - APP - 01st Feb, 2017 ) : Punjab Minister for Environment Zakia Shahnawaz on Wednesday said that urgent environmental policy measures were needed to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people especially women and small farmers who were worst hit by the impact of climate change. She expressed these views while addressing the launching ceremony of a report highlighting budget analyses of Punjab (2016-17) in reference to the allocation against climate change, organized by Oxfam and Indus Consortium under GROW Campaign here at a local hotel.

The provincial minister said that "We have to build and protect our forests to save the environment from pollution, adding the farmers are to be taught about use of pesticides its impacts and weather patterns necessary for farming and how they can cater the environmental challenges". She said that all stakeholder should come up to resolve the issues of climate change as nobody alone could cater these challenges. The minister also acknowledged that GROW campaign has been instrumental in making the voice of small growers and women farmers heard at various levels.

Experts, civil society representatives, farmers and academia also shared their concerns regarding climate change induced disasters and termed it a real threat to small farmers. They viewed that agriculture was one of the pillars of Pakistan's economy and major livelihood source of rural communities of the country. Federal Ministry of Finance Research Associate Aneela Bibi presented the key finding of climate changed focused budget analysis of Punjab.

According to the report, despite declining situation of agriculture in Pakistan, 3.36 percent of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), or Rs 23,497 million, was allocated to agriculture for the year 2015-16. As a percentage of the total budget this has also been declining over recent years such as from 10.28 per cent in the year 2010-11 to current level. Planning & Development Department of Punjab Chief Environment Haibat Ali Khan said that in the budget allocation process, utmost importance would be given to small farmer's issues by ensuring developmental projects for rural community's participation.

Earlier, women farmers from communities from Rajanpur, Layyah and Multan, areas prone to climate change impacts, informed that due to climate change and natural disasters, their crops were washed away, food couldn't be stored, and livestock has perished due to lack of vaccinations. This resulted as discontinuity in education of their children and poor healthcare of the household in addition to other impacts. On behalf of all women farmers and small growers, they appealed to the government to come up with gender inclusive and pro poor policies and plans with appropriate resource allocation.

ACD Oxfam Javeria Afzal explained that Oxfam has been creating awareness among the rural communities on climate change adaptation. Oxfam has also provided them a platform to raise their voice for pro poor policies and legislation, she added. Provincial Steering Committee Coordinator Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, Agriculture Department Water Management DG Malik Akram, Chief Metrologist Muhammad Riaz, College of Earth and Environmental Sciences (CEES) Principal Prof. Dr Sajid Rasheed Ahmad, Director EPA Waseem Ahmed Cheema, Agriculture Punjab Secretary Muhammad Mehmood and Jamshaid Fareed from Indus Consortium also spoke on the occasion.