For almost fifteen years, close to 12 million people living in the Southwestern province of Balochistan have been affected by water scarcity. With extreme levels of poverty and unemployment in many districts, the residents of Balochistan province often do not have much respite before the next drought threatens to affect their homes and livelihoods.
District Noshki is one such region, which has seen large-scale disruption in everyday lives because of recurring droughts. Surrounded by a desert and dry land on all four sides, Noshki district has faced severe water shortage in the preceding years — these dry conditions are almost always followed by challenging circumstances for the local population.
In the recent past, Killi Ismail and Killi Abdul Khaliq, remote villages situated about 40 kilometres from Noshki district have faced similar predicaments. In collaboration with the Government of Balochistan, the United Nations Development (UNDP) supported the provision of clean water to the area and helped households set up their kitchen gardens to promote self-sustenance. A permanent water channel has also been constructed to bring water to these household kitchen gardens.
Just over a year ago, residents of Noshki village lived in harsh conditions. Recurring droughts and lack of an adequate water supply meant severe negative impacts on agricultural produce and livestock. While the locals were hardly unfamiliar with the unfavourable consequences of erratic rainfall patterns, the days during and after the prolonged dry season were especially challenging to manage.
Most residents struggled to put food on the table for a single meal. A piece of bread was all the staple they could afford, adding vegetables and pulses to their meals meant they had to travel long distances —approximately forty Kilometers—to get to the local market where these foods were available.
Abdul Baqi Baloch, a resident of Noshki village, who has seen the situation improve in the last year or so gave a detailed account of the challenges faced by the village locals in the aftermath of the drought season. "A year ago, we could not even have dreamt of planting our crops in the village. Then UNDP, under its Refugee Affected Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme, supported a water storage system in the village and provided each of us with enough water to grow our vegetables", says Baloch.
Under the Refugee Affected Hosting Areas (RAHA) Programme in Balochistan, UNDP provided initial support in the form of seeds and also assisted local farmers with the reaping of their vegetable crops. Water storage tanks have been constructed, and supply pipes have been provided to each house for sustainable management of the kitchen gardens.
“We did not think it was possible to grow and eat from our gardens in a barren area such as ours— the villagers are ecstatic. We are putting all our efforts in tending to these gardens. UNDP’s support will go a long way with helping the poor people of our village sustain livelihoods,” said Abdul Baqi Baloch.