Cultural Anthropology (SOC401)
Assignment No. 01
Due Date: May 19, 2014 Marks: 15
Food obtaining strategies vary from culture to culture as per geographical conditions of specific area. The residents of desert smay rely on different strategies as compared to people living in hilly areas. But in certain situation natural calamities restrict the process of obtaining food and areas are suspected to drought situation. Same situation is being witnessed in the area of THAR, Sindh in Pakistan. People living in Thar Desert usually rely on their cattle and set their residence in the areas where water is available. The current wave of drought is one of the outcomes of unattainability of water but there are certain other factors which have caused such situation. Being a student of cultural anthropology, you are well aware of the fact that anthropologists are in continuous struggle to survive the indigenous cultures around the world.
Keeping in mind the context of this alarming situation answer the following questions:
1. Is disaster in Thar Desert humanly created or it is a natural process? (4)
2. What are the reasons behind the situation in the area? Identify five solid points. (5)
The Thar Desert begins around 300 kilometers from Karachi and runs up to the border with India, where it joins the Rajasthan desert. Poor health and communication infrastructure keeps the district disconnected from mainstream population. Only nine of 166 dehs in Tharparkar district are located in the command area of a barrage. The rest are in the desert where people mostly depend on rain for growing food and fodder crops.
In the beginning of the current season, the area received no rain except a little drizzle. Almost all reservoirs dried up leading to the current situation. Reports received from Diplo, Chhachhro, Islamkot, Dahli and Nagarparkar suggest that many poor Thari families were moving to barrage areas, along with their livestock.
Although the current situation highlighted by the media has created accountability for the government’s negligence, the situation is not new to Tharparkar as the area is hit by drought every two or three years. Problems faced by the people of the area include poverty, shortage of food and basic health units, and especially, the lack of female doctors. Hence, the worst affected by the recurrent droughts are the children and pregnant mothers.
3. What possible solutions do you think can overcome the drought problem in Thar district? (6)
The Sindh government has failed to take any pre-emptive measures to eradicate poverty and food insecurity in the area which has lead to the current situation.
In March, the Prime Minister took notice of the current scenario as highlighted by the media and directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to immediately get in touch with the Sindh authorities to provide all possible aid and assistance. By March 9, the Pakistan Army has established four medical camps at Diplo‚ Chachro‚ Mithi and Nagarpakar to provide healthcare facilities to the malnourished and sick children.
The Sindh Food Department had distributed wheat in Mithi‚ Islamkot‚ Diplo‚ Chachhro and Nagarparkar. Although aid offered by the Punjab government was rejected by the Sindh government, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had sent fifteen truckloads of food items and medicines to Mithi. The relief goods included rice‚ flour bags‚ cereals‚ sugar‚ tea dry milk‚ cooking oil‚ mineral water‚ biscuits‚ dates and medicines.
Pakistan Islamic Medical Association had expedited its medical relief activities in Tharparkar through establishment of medical camps in Mithi and several villages. The Association had also started an ambulance service between Deplo‚ Islam Kot and Mithi to provide emergency services to the people affected by the drought.
World Food Program had also offered lifesaving medicines to the famine-affected people of Tharparkar. Additionally, World Food Program and the Sindh government jointly launched Rs600 million project to assist around 348,000 children, pregnant and lactating women suffering malnutrition to prevent stunting and micronutrient deficiencies. The project would help prevent stunting (chronic malnutrition), primarily focusing at children, pregnant and lactating women in selected union councils of Thatta and Sajawal districts of Sindh. This will also contribute in reducing the incidences of low birth weight as maternal nutritional status of around 127,000 pregnant and lactating women will be improved.
On March 6, Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani took suo moto notice over the death of children in Thar. The CJ sought a report from Chief Secretary Sindh and fixed the hearing for March 10 in Islamabad. During the hearing, the Sindh government regretfully conceded responsibility for the death of 67 children in the drought wrecked Tharparkar district within the last three months in its report. This figure is around half of the deaths deported by various national media sources.
The report of the Sindh Chief Minister stated the causes for the deaths to be due to “pneumonia, sepsis, birth asphyxia and very few from malnutrition. Sepsis mainly due to [the] use of unhygienic methods of delivery used by midwives and untrained local ‘da’is’.” Advocate General Sindh Fateh Muhammad Malik claimed at the hearing that the children died due to the severe cold weather and their parents were reluctant to take them to the hospital for treatment.
According to the report, around 0.12 million bags of wheat have been distributed among the people in the affected area.
The bench directed the Sindh government to submit a report on the causes of the prevailing situation and to fix responsibility. It also sought a detailed action plan to overcome the crisis. The bench will take up the case again on March 17.
On March 10, the Prime Minister announced a Rs1 billion aid package for the drought hit district.