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Sustainable Rural Development.

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The UN Declaration on Sustainable Development concluded in 1992 called upon the world leaders to ensure that all environmental resources should be protected for equitable use of current and future generations and that development should be a fully participatory process. Over two decades later much more knowledge exists about how and to what extent the world resources have been plundered in the name of development. Issues of food insecurity mass migration and conflict poverty inequity and insecurity; incidence of natural disasters has multiplied as a consequence of climate change. This chapter highlights some key issues and challenges related to sustainable development in rural Pakistan.

SOME CONCERNS

In Pakistan rural development is used synonymously with agriculture development. Out of the 60 percent of Pakistan's population that live in rural areas only 40 percent is engaged in the agricultural sector. Though agriculture continues to be an important production sector its contribution to the GDP has reduced from about 30 percent in 1981 to 21 percent in 2013.

Despite government claims to focus on agriculture and poverty reduction the general level of quality of life especially in rural areas has been deteriorating. The neglect has caused intense poverty and development challenges which have serious consequences for the social and economic wellbeing of the rural population. Since the 1970s the worldview about agriculture development has changed but the government is yet to move beyond the traditional approaches of providing seeds fertilizer and subsidies towards holistic management of agricultural resources such as soil water technology and rural development.

Rural areas are not only engines of economic growth their populace is also custodian of natural resources such as water bodies forests and other biodiversity. Investment in rural development minimizes haphazard rural to urban migration by providing opportunities for people to live and work in their villages with some degree of satisfaction.

Development in urban areas especially in Pakistan is often carried out at the cost of rural resources. Income from agriculture is drawn away to the cities where the rich landowners and their children live and study; the local environment is degraded and health of rural workers put to risk through brick kilns marble quarries gems and other stone works that require excessive amounts of water; farmers are forced through policies geared towards the urban markets to grow cash crops that tend to reduce soil nutrients and fertility. Water bodies and the coast are used as dumping grounds for both industrial and domestic waste.

Over sixty years of battering natural resources have brought the country to a point where drinking water is a scarce commodity and ground water has depleted to frighteningly low levels. The forest cover is one of the lowest in the world and soil and coastal areas have been eroded exposing them to devastating impacts of natural disasters. Several species of plants birds and animals have been lost and have become extinct. Soils and waters have become so polluted that neither fish nor horticulture can be exported in the quantities they are grown because of presence of large amounts of harmful chemicals. Environmental degradation has been both direct and indirect cause of rise in poverty and deprivation and people are more insecure and vulnerable now due to detrimental impacts of poor resource management.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: KEY ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) developed by the Yale University ranks 163 countries on 25 indicators that cover ecosystem productivity and environmental public health. Here it has been used to compute percentiles on environmental performance. A lower percentile indicates that a country is performing poorly on the chosen indicator. A cross-country comparison with a set of comparable countries in South and East Asia demonstrates Pakistan's performance compared to the rest of the region. Table 8.1 provides a summary of the indicators and the environmental performance of each country.

Table 8.1 EPI indicators for a Sample of Countries

###(Percentile)

###Pakistan###India###Sri Lanka###Bangladesh###Malaysia###Indonesia

Environmental Burden of disease###33###29###31###30###64###34

Access to sanitation###31###9###55###17###66###28

Access to water###44###42###31###26###71###27

Water quality index###57###70###91###85###50###55

Water stress index###10###10###30###44###67###69

Water scarcity index###5###60###24###94###49###59

Indoor air pollution###14###18###12###4###74###20

Outdoor air pollution###3###33###13###-###71###12

Sulphur dioxide emissions per populated land area###36###25###36###49###43###43

Nitrogen oxides emissions per populated land area###70###-###35###47###36###44

Ecosystem zone###25###11###70###21###47###20

Greenhouse gas emissions per capita###86###91###83###99###20###35

Industrial greenhouse gas emissions intensity###23###13###79###48###49###55

CO2 emissions per electricity generation###56###-###61###27###32###23

Biome protection###61###26###63###9###84###88

Marine protection###63###50###35###25###69###68

Trawling and dredging intensity###37###42###63###-###2###17

Annual change in forest cover###2###100###9###32###24###4

Growing stock rate###1###76###2###23###65###100

Agricultural water intensity###3###10###12###95###55###61

Pesticide regulation###15###17###47###6###62###64

Agriculture subsides###54###14###45###94###30###22

Pakistan's performance is relatively good or satisfactory in some indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions per capita (including land use emissions) CO2 emission per electricity generation and marine protection. On the other hand the country ranks poorly with regard to most of the indicators related to water pollution forestation agricultural water intensity and pesticide protection.

The pressure on the water resources of the country is assessed through the water stress index and water scarcity index. The water stress index indicates the percentage of the country's territory that has been affected by over exploitation of water resources. The water scarcity index shows the fraction of water overuse weighted by alternative renewable water resources. Pakistan shows the poorest performance against both the water stress index and the water scarcity index among the six countries.

Pollution harms the health of individuals and the level of pollution is assessed through indoor and outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution refers to pollution within households from burning fuels such as wood charcoal crops and other agricultural waste dung shrubs and coal. It leads to an increase in respiratory diseases and higher mortality from pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Outdoor air pollution refers to particles suspended in outdoor air which lead to an increase in diseases. According to the EPI analysis Pakistan does poorly against the pollution indicators.

Deforestation is assessed through the annual change in forest cover and regeneration rate. The annual change in forest cover refers to the annual percent change in forest cover between 2000 and 2025. Pakistan lies at the bottom (2nd percentile) showing an extremely high rate of deforestation. Growing stock rate is used to compute the standing tree volume of the forest resources. At the 1st percentile Pakistan's performance is the poorest in the world.

Agricultural water intensity indicates the pressure on renewable water resources caused by irrigation and livestock. Pakistan lies in the 3rd percentile in this category showing an extremely poor performance.

Pesticide regulation analyses the extent to which countries have legislated on agreements related to pesticide usage. Pesticides are a significant source of pollution in the environment and affect both human beings and the ecosystem. Pakistan lies in the 15th percentile in this indicator better only than Bangladesh.

Shortage and Poor Quality of Water Water availability on a per capita basis has been declining in Pakistan at an alarming rate. It has decreased from about 5000 cubic metres per capita in 1951 to about 1100 cubic metres currently which is just above the internationally recognized scarcity rate. It is projected that water availability will be less than 700 cubic metres per capita by 2025 (WB 2006).

Multiple factors are contributing to stress on water resources which include rapid urbanization increased industrial activity and dependence of the agricultural sector on chemicals and fertilizers. Contamination of water has resulted in increased water borne diseases and negative impacts on human health (WWF 2007).

Water supply is primarily fed by the river flows followed by rainfall.

The river flows are largely fed by glacial and snow-melt from the mountain ranges. The country's water security is considered to be under serious threat as both the country's glaciers as well as rainfall supplies are highly sensitive to any changes in climate.

Irrigation accounts for most of the water consumption (70 percent) in Pakistan. The rest is used for supplies to urban and rural populations and industry. According to GoP (2005) per capita availability of water in the country has declined from 2700 cubic metre (m3) in 1971 to 1200 m3 in 2000. It is estimated to be 850 m3 in 2013 putting Pakistan in the category of water stressed countries. Table 8.2 highlights the different sources of water. As can be seen from the table the total availability of water has been decreasing. Between 2008-09 and 2009-10 it has declined by six per cent. Over-exploitation of ground water is another important problem which has been aggravated by the subsidy on electricity use of tube wells.

Table 8.2 Sources of Water in Pakistan

###(Million Acre-Feet)

###Surface Water###Ground Water###Total

###At Farm###Public###Private###Scarp###Water

###Gate###Tubelwells###Tubewells###Tubewells###Availability

2000-01###84.2###1.9###39.4###9.3###134.8

2004-05###85.7###1.9###40.1###8.0###135.7

2008-09###94.2###1.7###39.9###7.0###142.9

2009-10###83.5###1.9###40.5###7.0###133.7

Wastage of Water

A large number of irrigation canals are losing surface water rapidly. Water logging and salinity has emerged as a consequence of the mismanagement of irrigated agriculture flat topography seepage from unlined earthen canals inadequate provision of drainage and the use of poor quality drainage-effluent. The situation is becoming serious due to the problem of disposal of drainage effluent (Kahlown and Majeed 2004). The seepage of water in such large quantities is due to lack of maintenance of the canals. The exact amount of wastage has not yet been determined but studies suggest that almost one half of the water entering the system is wasted (Easter and Linn 2005). Moreover the pricing policies of water services are inadequate and rely on the antiquated system of abiana. Area and crop based flat rates have not encouraged efficient use of water because neither is related to actual water usage.

The Water Polluters

Industrial Sector: Lack of understanding of and attention to environmental considerations in management of industrial processes have greatly increased water pollution in the country. According GoP (2005) only five percent of industries conduct environmental assessments which are mandatory by law. Compliance to the national quality standards that specify permissible limits of wastewater is also poor.

The sugarcane industry is largely rural based employing over nine million of the rural population. It produces several hundred thousand cubic metres of wastewater per day often discharged directly into the drains or rivers without any prior treatment. Leather tanneries and textile industries are also major polluters of water resources. There are no incentives for polluters to treat their effluents; nor are there any penalties for polluters who continue to discharge hazardous chemicals into the ground and water bodies.

Municipal Sector: Municipal sources of pollution are equally dangerous sources of water pollution as are industries. WB (2006) estimates that around 2000 million gallons of sewage is being discharged to surface water bodies every day. Domestic waste containing household effluent and human waste is discharged directly to a sewer system a natural drain or water body a nearby field or an internal septic tank. It is estimated that only 8 percent of urban wastewater is treated in municipal treatment plants. Domestic waste in rural areas goes completely untreated and with the still prevalent practice of open defecation rural areas and fields are major health hazards (Murtaza 2010).

The treated wastewater in urban areas generally flows into open drains and despite scarcity of water is not reused (WB 2005). The heavily contaminated industrial effluents are not separated from the treated municipal water and both flow in a combined stream into nearby water bodies which are often used as sources of drinking water for humans and cattle. The same water also seeps into the soil and contaminates agricultural land and wells as well as canals. The country has no standards of surface water quality nor is there any monitoring of drinking water quality. A national water quality study conducted by the Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) identifies the presence of lead chromium and cyanide in groundwater samples from industrial areas of Karachi and the Malir and Lyari rivers. A separate study reported that in Sindh almost 95 per cent of shallow groundwater supplies are contaminated with bacteria (WB 2006).

Agricultural Sector: The agricultural drainage system of Pakistan shows high percentage of pollutants according to several studies by the PCRWR and WAPDA. However compared with the levels of pollution caused by industries and domestic waste this is relatively small (GoP 2005).

Land Degradation

According to the WB (2006) seventy percent of Pakistan's total area of 79.6 million hectares is arid or semi arid and therefore highly vulnerable to desertification. Pakistan's agricultural production is least sustainable in South Asia with 80 percent of its crop land being irrigated but nearly half of this is water logged and 14 percent is saline. Rangelands are productive to only one third of their potential. Forest destruction rate is one of the highest in the world.

Only twenty seven percent of the land is under cultivation and this has been made possible despite low and erratic rainfall by the country's huge irrigation system. Agricultural growth considered to be equivalent to development of rural areas was first given an impetus through introduction of high yielding varieties and technology during the 60s and then injected by fertilizer and pesticides. The first benefitted mainly large landholders and the second has polluted the soils extensively and made pests even more resistant.

Since independence the area of land under cultivation has increased by approximately 40 percent. This was made possible through intensification introduction of technology fertilizer and pesticides. Today however agricultural production seems to have become stagnant. According to Mustafa et al (2007) less than 20 percent of land retains the potential for intensive agricultural use while 62 percent is classified as having low potential for crops livestock and forestry production. Overall land categorized as cultivable represents less than one quarter of the country's total area.

The problem of salinity too has been compounded by consistent mismanagement of irrigation and human induced soil erosion. Official statistics indicate that over 25 percent of irrigated land suffers from various levels of salinity with over 1.4 million hectares being rendered uncultivable due to excessive salinity levels. The total probable cost of salinity is estimated at a mean cost of Rs 55 billion or 0.9 percent of GDP in 2004 (WB 2006).

Deforestation clearing of natural vegetation (for infrastructure development agricultural expansion home construction or other human activities) over grazing and lack of protection from water flows has caused much of the land to be eroded such that degraded land comprised 18 million hectares in total in 2003. Most affected by soil erosion during this period are Sindh and Balochistan.

Forests occupy around 4.6 million hectares of the total land area of Pakistan. Most of the country's forests are located in the northern part of the country; 40 per cent in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa 15.7 per cent in the Gilgit-Baltistan and 6.5 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. A number of factors have contributed to rapid deforestation. The most often-cited are practices by the local communities who supposedly over exploit its resources due to lack of awareness and for meeting their fuel and fodder requirements. However the fact is that the local population only uses a minor part of the forest for their survival. The depletion of forests is more a consequence of inefficient forest management strategies corruption and poor governance by the provincial forest departments who allow the smuggling of timber for furniture and construction activities.

A Word on Corporate Farming

In 2001 the government passed a Corporate Agricultural Farming (CAF) Ordinance under which local and foreign companies were allowed to buy or lease state land in Pakistan for farming purposes. The investment policy was extremely liberal and included 100 per cent foreign equity remittance of 100 per cent capital profits dividends no upper ceiling on land holdings separate credit share earmarked by all banks and financial institutions and fiscal incentives such as exemption from custom duty and sales tax on import of agricultural machinery exemption from duty of transfer of land and no tax on dividends. Moreover labour laws may not be presently applicable to corporate agriculture companies. The policy was not debated in parliament and no national consensus was developed.

While it has been argued that CAF would bring in huge amounts of foreign exchange and open up avenues for employment Hasnain (2009) asserts the CAF Ordinance in its current form would be disastrous for the people of Pakistan. The following concerns have been raised:

Pakistan is already water stressed and corporate farming will put more pressure on the meagre water resources depriving small farmers of irrigation water.

The landless and farmers with small land holdings will be at a huge disadvantage compared with the corporate giants and will be forced to sell out. Unemployment and rural poverty are already very high and the CAF is likely to increase this further and create more rural unemployment. Mono cropping has already caused considerable damage to the soils and as CAF means concentrating on the same on larger scale it may further deteriorate the productivity and food security situation in the country.

Rural populations and indigenous communities who have been living in these areas for many years may be displaced as land is purchased by large multinationals. CAF would pose additional adverse environmental impacts and will add to climate change.

Some of the recommendations made are as follows:

CAF ordinance should be brought in the parliament for thorough discussion. Agrarian reforms should be introduced in the country and state land be distributed among landless peasants. Policy on sustainable and organic agriculture should be followed to ensure food security.

Minimum upper ceiling should be fixed and CAF be brought under labour laws.

For private investments domestic or oversees Pakistani companies must be given priority. The government should ensure labour intensive and environment friendly initiatives under the CAF. Through legislation it should be ensured that private investors may not grab already cultivated land from existing farmers. FUTURE SCENARIOS

The above paints a bleak picture of Pakistan's natural resources as they stand today. During the 50s-70s the country's planners could have claimed lack of knowledge and understanding of the inherent linkages between social and economic issues and the environment. But even then there was no excuse for disregard of proper management of resources reducing wastage and putting into place systems of disposal of hazardous material. As early as the 80s and then in the early 90s Pakistan was one of the first countries to prepare and approve a National Conservation Strategy that not only identified all major issues in depth but also posed several recommendations for sustainable development. Since then a number of strategies and plans have been produced but economic agricultural and social policies have continued to be made and implemented for short term gains and with total disregard of the further environmental degradation that these will cause.

There are thus only two scenarios that may be considered. One is business as usual that will lead Pakistan on the same trajectory it has followed for the past decades. It is an unsustainable path that leaves little for our future generations. The second scenario is one which is also within our reach albeit with difficulty. It is a departure from the past and it is as much to do with attitudes and behaviours as with different paradigms of planning and implementation.

Our recommendations can be defined best by a five point process: halt degradation reverse losses regenerate grow sustainably (adopt sustainable agricultural practices) and inclusively and adopt green policies. The first three are specific to adopting measures to clean up existing pollution of water land and soil reduce soil erosion and water logging halt forest destruction control use of pesticides treat existing heaps of solid waste and polluted water bodies and take steps to regenerate at least a part of the water forests and vegetation that has been lost.

Given the threats to water security it is important that water resources should be conserved. Water conservation measures are the best option for the control and management of subsurface drainage water which involve reducing the drainage of water and using the already existing resources effectively and efficiently.

Sustainable growth requires a base of good growth policies that create a good business environment promote investment and remove harmful subsidies; it is conducive to small entrepreneurs and its benefits are both designed and monitored to reach the poorest. They are premised in and are supported by strong human resource development systems both with educational and skill development and are geared towards self-sufficiency in food and essential items with value added export regimes. The inclusiveness of sustainable growth requires that poor marginalized and remotely situated groups must be particularly catered to. For sustainable growth to be implemented environmental issues must be thoroughly integrated within economic policies and institutional reforms.
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Publication:Annual Review Social Development in Pakistan
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 31, 2013
Words:3594
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