Community constructs wall to protect against floods in Pishin, Balochistan province
Frigid winters and searing summers characterise the climate of Balochistan, sometimes making the area inhospitable. However, Balochistan is blessed with a unique environment for fruit production. The sight of a green patch may seem very rare but the land is very fertile. Known as the fruit basket of the country, the region is responsible for 90 percent of the grapes produced in Pakistan, 60 percent of the peaches, pomegranates and apricots and 34 percent of the apples.
- Community physical infrastructure (CPI) projects in health, education, water and sanitation, and community centers planned and implemented.
- PKR 225,000 contributed for the construction of flood wall by the community in Dilsora Village.
- UNDP aims to improve livelihoods, rehabilitate the environment and enhance social cohesion within the refugee affected and hosting communities through RAHA project.
Despite the scarcity of water, the province has been affected by regular flash floods since 2011. In 2011, flash floods triggered by rains in southwestern Pakistan affected more than 700,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of crops, and agricultural land. The province also witnessed flash floods in 2013 that damaged the province’s agricultural growth.
Pishin is in the north of Balochistan, bordering Afghanistan. Known as the rich green agriculture town of the northern hills, the area has a strange kind of beauty. Dry brown dirt seems to stretch across the horizon as far as eye can see. Villages in the district rely heavily on agriculture for their livelihoods, but have been coping with the aftereffects of floods since 2011.
“For outsiders, it may be very hard to believe that this area experiences flash floods, but since 2011, the area has seen a lot of devastation, it has damaged our croplands. It is very difficult for us to recover from floods every year. Further damage to these lands will completely destroy their fertility,” reported Abdul Malik from Dilsora village, Pishin.
A small settlement of 380 households, Dilsora has lost acres of fertile land due to floods. The once beautiful fruit orchids have been transformed into barren lands.
“We grew all kinds of fruits here. Apples, grapes, cherries and so much more,” observed Allah Noor. “Our village was beautiful. You could see the grape orchards miles away from the main road. People would stop over here and buy fruits instead of the local markets back then. Now, the land has lost its fertility. It requires more soil and more fertilizers than it used to,” he added
Allah Noor and Abdul Malik, the leaders of Dilsora, soon formed a community organization called Bala SoorKash in an effort to save the livelihoods of the village and requested help from field staff of the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas project (RAHA) to help construct a flood protection wall.
The community needed a protection wall and sought financial and technical support from RAHA. After a technical evaluation, a scheme worth PKR1,800,000 was approved for funding.
“We proposed a 1,400 foot protection wall, but the community has contributed PKR 225,000 to stretch the wall even further,” said Fahad, a RAHA field engineer. “Honestly speaking, there is nothing much we have done here except give them technical guidance. They have done almost everything on their own” he added
RAHA has also helped in the restoration of crops. With the financial support of UNDP and its partners, normal life is being restored in Dilsora.
“They have suffered enough. They lost most of their land already. This project has given them hope and there is a strong belief that this scheme will save their economy. Such poor people have nothing except belief and this wall has given them the belief that better years are ahead of them,” explained Imran, a RAHA social mobilizer.
“I can’t thank my community enough. These people are my family. Everyone here is a father; mother, brother, sister, son, and daughter to me. We have worked together and inshallah (if God wills it) our lands and crops will be safer. Moreover, this wall will protect almost 450 houses,” stated Abdul Malik
Allah Noor continued, “I hope we don’t see another flood next year, but God forbid, if a tragedy happens, I know that we will be ready and my family will be safe. God knows if we will survive a flood but at least we have a chance now.”