Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cattle breeders at the doorstep of Emergency in Achro Tharr!!

Achro thar or white desert is containing on three union councils of Taluka Khipro, district Sanghar Sindh. 80% of Achro Thar’s population depends on livestock for its livelihood. The livestock breeders primarily depend on the natural pasture lands of the area for their cattle feeding. These pastures remain green till 4 to 5 months after rainy season and start drying out in later months. The situation at present is that the pastures are almost exhausted. People have started migrating in search of food for their cattle. Some have even started feeding grains to their cattle from their share of food. They have resorted to eat less and share half of their food with their cattle only to prevent them from starving and to safeguard their next whole year’s earning- cattle being the only source.

Scarcity of water in the area has also created problems for the livestock owners. Their cattle are not growing healthy. A stock of healthy goats sold to the middleman fetches around Rs.1500/- on average. But, at present, the goats are so weak, that middleman pays Rs.700 to 800 per goat. This gives a big blow to the meager earnings of the poor breeder.

Growth of a strange poisonous plant, called Dabbar, in the leftover grazing fields has worsened the situation further. A grazing animal who eats this plant mistakenly, do not survive. According to information, around 15 to 20 goats have died only in village Saeedao. To these people loss of one animal means loss of at least one month's food for them.

Civil society activist and other civil society workers requested to the government to take necessary measures to protect the poor breeders from falling further in to poverty.

Cotton belt town struggling for potable water

Beside cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the home and looking after the three children, it is necessary for thirty tow years old Sanjhi Menghwar to bring potable water from the hand pump located in local graveyard, at the distance of half kilometer from her home. She visits graveyard with empty pitchers twice a days, early morning and in evening.

These are no more the new scenes for this agricultural Taluka, where women folk carrying pitchers on their head lined on the way to graveyard, as it is not model irrigational sub division of Pakistan , but a remote desert village of Thar . An unknown philanthropist financed funds for the installation for this hand pump in Hindu graveyard just behind the Garibabad (poor settlement). Nobody of this settlement knows exactly who is responsible to push 110000 human population of Khipro sub division to face even the acute potable water shortage.

Khipro is a taluka, an administrative subdivision, of Sanghar District, is located in the middle of Sindh on eastern corner along with Indian border. It touches Umerkot district from eastern southern side, Mirpurkhas district in south, district headquarter of Sanghar in west, Khairpur district in north and its unique white desert of Achhro Thar is spread along with Indian border in east.

Being located in the head of the Nara Canal system, the major canal system of the River Indus in Sindh province, Khirpo was cotton belt of Pakistan contributing 32 percent of total cotton production of Pakistan. Khipro was also producing red chilies, peanuts, wheat and vegetables but it seems these were the fairy tales of the past, right now the human population is struggling to get the potable water, though they have all around water in four major canals of Sindh, including Nara Canal. The Nara Canal off takes from Sukkur Barrage and splits into five main canals including Jamrao, Mithrao, Khipro, Hiral and Thar and all four of these canals pass through this subdivision, but human population are deprived even the potable water and they are forced to consume underground contaminated potable water from communal hand pumps.

Though the seepages of irrigational canals caused the under ground water sweet but no one knows exactly the purity of this water, as in Achhro Thar, just 50 kilometers away from Khipro Town people are getting lower limbs paralysis and many of them reported dead after consuming highly fluoride under ground water.

The official record of the district government Sanghar reveals that four water ponds were built in late 70s and latter two more ponds were constructed in early 80s to provide potable water of 55000 population of that time. In last three decades population increased to the double of that time but no new pond was built and existing pond silted. After the introduction of local government system the people of this area got a new hope that at least they will get new ponds for their potable water needs but during last eight years they got only decorated welcome gates and roundabouts on the main entrances of the town.
On contact Taluka Municipal Officer (TMO) Khipro said the city needs 20000 gallons every day but against these needs local water supply scheme receive only 11000 gallons averagely per day. After the acute water shortage in the province, irrigation department imposed water rotation on the canals but Khipro city could be counted as one of the few cities of Sindh where irrigation department has also imposed rotation system on potable water for human consumption. In the past most of the cities and smaller towns of province were facing potable water shortage mostly in early January followed by the annual closer of the canals for repairing and remodeling but at this time people are forced to face water shortage through out the year.

Apart from the water shortage, the purity of the potable water supplied to unofficial 110000 human population of Khipro. The records of defunct public health department Sanghar and current district government Sanghar reveal that it provides bleaching powder and chlorine for the purification on regular basis. After getting the purchasing slips of chlorine and bleaching powder, when this scribe contacted the chemical store of Karachi from where district government purchased these purification chemicals, the manager of the chemical store denied of such purchase.

For government, it is yet to be investigating the number of children die every year in Khipro subdivision because of the contaminated water and abdominal disorders, as district government and provincial health department is entirely blank in this regard and the death of these innocent children go unreported.

The social workers of the area are concerned for such phenomenon and the demand for more allocation of the funds so the potable water system could be improved. Prominent philanthropist, social worker and water quality expert Muhammad Ali Lashari expresses his grave concern over such conditions. He works for Sindh Graduates Association (SGA) and recently conducted in-depth survey of the underground potable water quality in Achhor Thar, where situation is worst. Lashari demands related authorities, provincial government and district government Sanghar to ensure the implementation of existing methods for purification of potable water and to bind the irrigation department not to force water rotation on potable water of the city, so people could get their due share.

In annual budget 2008-09 provincial government of Sindh allocated Rs.11 million for the renovation, repair and establishment of the potable water for district Sanghar. It is long practice that mostly the funds get lapsed without use or used only in the documents. The citizens must ask district government that what funds they received in the budget and these funds would be utilized. As stakeholder citizens have right to access the information for which they must insist.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Poor Health Conditon of a Taluak of Sindh, Pakistan.

It was not new scene for the hospital staffer that a lady in her early twenties lying on the hospital bad on white sheet with pale face and faded eyes and her relatives were crying around the bad. Twenty three years old Sabhgi Rajar lost her life after struggling for three days and nights in the hospital. She got married seven months before and was four month pregnant and all of sudden she started bleeding after getting some gynecological problem and was brought from a small desert village of Tar Thorohaoo of Achhro Thar(white desert) to civil hospital Khipro. She was there for three days and nights but she could not survive. Her father sold his only cow to shift her from her villager to this hospital and for her treatment but she died despite his all efforts.
Her family was not the alone but about 400 families of the patients visit daily to this only state-run hospital of sub division Khipro suffer of the administrative negligence. There are 12 Basic Health Units (BHUs) and 2 dispensaries for the 327000 human population of Khipro sub division and Taluka hospital Khipro is only state run hospital for such huge human population. The interest of the government towards such large population could be gauged from the fact that there is not a single ambulance for these people. About 400 patients visit this hospital every day but there is not a single specialist doctor is in this hospital. According to the hospital record civil hospital Khipro has sectioned 40 lower staff of grade 1 to grade 15 but 22 staffers were sent on deputation to Sanghar to serve Zila Nazim and EDO of different departments. There are 15 sectioned posts of specialist doctors for this hospital but right now not a single doctor in this hospital.
Beside the lack of staffers and doctors there is no pathology laboratory in this hospital which was built in late 50s. Not a single machine is available in this hospital for cardiac patients, head injuries and neurosurgery. Averagely about 6 patients of dog bite visit daily in this hospital but they are sent back as there is no vaccination for dog bite in this hospital.
The major share for the annual budget goes to the salaries of the doctors and staffers, whereas patients are sent back without treatments. The district government Sanghar’s record reveals that the annual budget for civil hospital Khipro is Rs.48 million but huge part of that amount goes to the salaries of the doctors and other staffers and for the purchase of medicine only Rs.1.5 million allocated for civil hospital Khipro but against such lesser amount for the purchase of medicine only Rs.0.95 million were released in 2008, according to Medical Superintendent civil hospital Khipro Muhammad Iqbal Qaimkhani.
If this amount used for the 150,000 patients then every patient would get treatment and medicine of Rs.342 but actually every district government allocate Rs.30 for the treatments and medicine of each patient because civil hospital received only 25 percent (which is Rs.4.5 Million) from the total annual budget of Rs.48 million to provide the treatments and to buy medicine for 150,000 patients.
If the annual allocation Rs.48 million for the health sector is divided among total population of sub division Khipro that is 327000 then each citizen would get Rs.14.67 that means state is providing Rs.14.67 to each citizen of Khipro Taulka to buy medicine, conduct pathological tests and other treatments annually.
The allocations of these funds for these 150,000 patients in the annual budget of district government Sanghar is much less then the allocation for salary and non-salary allocations for Zila Nazim, Naib Nazim, DCO, EDO Finance and Revenue secretariats which was Rs.60.619 million.
According to the official documents provided by Aftab Ahmed Abro, Incharge Sindh Devolved Social Services Program (SDSSP) district Sanghar in the annual budget 2007-08 district government Sanghar allocated Rs.11.457 Million for the salary and non-salary allocations for Zila Nazim Secretariat, Rs. 5.066 Million for Zila Naib Nazim Secretariat, Rs. 8.335 Million for District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sanghar Secretariat, Rs.31.289 Million for EDO Finance Secretariat, Rs.4.472 Million were allocated for EDO Revenue Secretariat.
Sindh Devolved Social Services Program (SDSSP) is special program to improve the conditions of health and education at district level, but SDSSP has reduced the annual allocation by 50 percent in annual budget 2007-08. The official documents of SDSSP disclose that SDSSP allocated 44.6 percent of the total budget for the health sector in the annual budget of 2005-06 that was reduced by almost half of the total allocation and in the annual budget SDSSP allocated 23.618 percent of the total allocations. When this scribe asked the reasons behind such reduction SDSSP incharge district Sanghar Aftab A. Abro was unable to satisfy this correspondent.
After reducing water level and fresh potable water Khipro is on the high risk of abdominal diseases and also the administrative negligence pushed the masses of this agricultural rich sub division of Pakistan to face these diseases. The recent appearance of polio case in this subdivision has multiple the total polio cases in the province.
Beside these tragedies the women and children of this subdivision are at the high risk. According to UNICEF the birth facilities in Sanghar district is on the top in Sindh province and the percentage of births in facilities increased from 8.7 per cent (2002) to 18.5 percent in 2007 which was 5.1 per cent in 2000.
Provincial government must initiate survey to find out the ground realties that how the people of this area suffer in absence of budget for health sector and the international donors must asked government of Pakistan the reasons behind poor health care facilities for this district. Provincial government must force SDSSP and district government Sanghar to raise the annual budget for Taluka Hospital Khipro.