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Pakistan: Drought - 2014-2017

Disaster types

According to authorities in Tharparkar district, Sindh province, 99 children and 67 adults (43 men and 24 women) have reportedly died in Tharparkar since the beginning of 2014 due to a combination of chronic malnutrition, a lack of access to effective health facilities, lower than average rainfall in Chachro, Diplo, Khinser, Islamkot, Mithi tehsils (sub-districts), and an outbreak of sheep pox which has killed thousands of small animals.

Crop failure due to low rainfall, coupled with loss of small animals has greatly reduced the impoverished communities’ purchasing power. Poverty is endemic in the sparsely populated district with acute malnutrition rates in children as high as 20 per cent, well above the emergency threshold of 15 per cent. The outbreak of sheep pox has aggravated the situation in Tharparkar, possibly having killed thousands of small animals, critical to household food security. (OCHA, 20 March 2014)

More than 190 children have died and 22,000 have been hospitalised in Tharparkar district in 2016 because of drought-related waterborne and viral diseases. Tharparkar is facing severe drought for the fourth consecutive year, and access to health services is reported to be very difficult, with families travelling an average distance of 17km to reach the nearest health facility. (Assessment Capacities Project, 16 Feb 2016)

According to the Joint UN Needs Assessment, several districts have been severely affected by extreme water scarcity (62% in Jamshoro and 100% in Tharparkar), and it has resulted in reduced harvest by 34-53% and livestock by 48%. (UNICEF, 30 Jun 2016)

In Tharparkar District and the surrounding areas of Sindh Province, a third consecutive year of cereal production shortfalls due to drought, coupled with losses of small animals, has aggravated food insecurity and caused acute malnutrition. (FAO, 30 Nov 2016)

Since 2013, Tharparkar has been affected by a drought‐like situation impacting livelihoods, nutrition and health conditions. The total under‐ 5 deaths were reported at 234 in 2013, 326 in 2014, and 398 in 2015, rising from 173 in 2011 and 188 in 2012. According to media reports, the incidence of under‐five deaths in Tharparkar is still on rise during the first half of 2016 with 243 deaths recorded. This may suggest a worsening health and nutrition situation following the start of the drought period. (WFP, 19 Sep 2016)

At least nine more infants died due to malnutrition and the outbreak of various diseases in arid Tharparkar district over a two-day period in December, raising the toll to 476 for 2016, according to local media. (Alhasan Systems, 01 Jan 2017)

A joint UN observation mission took place in drought-hit Tharparkar, Umerkot and Sanghar districts from 13-17 February, 2017. The resulting mission report stated that the areas remain vulnerable and that the situation may become critical or deteriorate into a 'humanitarian emergency' if little or no rain falls during the coming monsoon, and if immediate needs are not met. The mission found that the vulnerabilities outlined in an August 2016 needs assessment remain, while recommendations from detailed assessments and missions conducted from 2015-2016 have not been put into practice. (UNCT, 17 Feb 2017)

In the districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Sanghar in southeastern Sindh Province, below-average rains throughout 2016 sharply reduced the 2016/17 cereal production. This, coupled with losses of small animals due to diseases and severe shortages of fodder and water, has aggravated food insecurity and caused acute malnutrition. (FAO, 09 May 2017)

Forecast models indicate that there is a 50 to 60 per cent probability of an El Niño event developing in the second half of 2017, with Pakistan categorized as a high-risk country. Worsening drought conditions could potentially affect an estimated 300,000 of the most vulnerable people — including 192,680 children — in Sindh province. There will also be an increased chance of severe monsoon rains in the north. Humanitarian partners are developing a preparedness plan aligned with priorities identified by the Government of Pakistan. (OCHA, 19 Jun 2017 )