Pakistan listed among drought-hit countries

Pakistan is among 23 countries which are facing drought emergencies over the past two years, according to the report released by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.  

The report stated that 23 countries including Pakistan have experienced drought emergencies in the last two years (2020-22).


The 23 countries listed by the report include Afghanistan, Angola, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, the United States and Zambia.


The report also stated that an additional 4 million square kilometres will need to be rehabilitated by 2050 while emphasising the need to provide immediate funding to developing countries.

“Productive land is scarce in Pakistan – 80% of the country is arid or semi-arid. Land degradation and desertification are caused by unsustainable land management practices, coupled with increased demand for natural resources, and driven by a rapidly growing and largely rural population dependent on drylands for their livelihoods,” the report stated.


To address these problems, in 2007, the Pakistani government began implementing a Sustainable Land Management program across nine dryland districts. Over eight years, 120 square kilometers of degraded rangeland were rehabilitated through reseeding and community-based grazing management, and a further 80 square kilometers under sustainable rainfed agriculture and water conservation measures.


It said: “In 2015, the project was extended and rolled out more widely, utilizing water control and storage structures, creating shelterbelts and rangeland management plans, restoring degraded dryland forest (e.g., community tree nurseries and plantations for domestic fuel), and implementing sand dune stabilization measures. As a result, some 13,000 households directly or indirectly benefited from nearly 200 square kilometers of improved land health, better access to water for livestock, and reduced wind erosion.”


This success of the program inspired the Billion Trees Afforestation Project in Pakistan’s mountainous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which saw 3,500 square kilometers of forests and degraded land restored in just two years. Strong engagement with local communities was a key success factor, it added.


In addition to significant income and job generation, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government also surpassed its 3,484 square kilometer commitment to the Bonn Challenge, becoming the first such commitment to be fully met, according to a report.


In 2018, the popularity of this initiative gave impetus to the world’s largest reforestation initiative — the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme – as part of a suite of nature-based solutions to fight desertification and climate change in Pakistan.