Village Patho Kolhi: victim of climate change and social inequality

I visited Patho Kolhi as part of a study designed to understand the impacts of climate change on agro-based livelihood and community social life. the wastewater drain near to village invited so many misfortunes.

Village Patho Kolhi cited in disaster-prone district Badin, UC Seerani one of severely climate-change affected regions of the country, the village had around 50 households living in traditionally bush-made huts, Kolhi’s a lower Hindu caste count as the main population of the village, majority households adopted agriculture as key livelihood source, only a few had ownership of a small piece of cropland, remaining working as a farmer of local landlords.

They usually take lends from landlords and local borrowers to manage routine expenses, and settle them in reaping season, hardly saving some bucks after settling loans with interest.  It was their life.

This Socially backward village was viewed as a terrible picture of complete ignorance and discrimination from the government side; the village lacked even minor facilities, health and hygiene conditions of women and children seemed pathetic. They were compelled to use unsafe drinking water, no concept of a proper latrine; usually, women wait for dark to go into open fields to latrine and children go outside the home for open defecation. For decade’s people of the village were costing votes but their voice and issues remained unheard.

The socio-economic conditions of vulnerable families could not improve despite both males & females doing hard to meet the survival need of a family. Unfortunately, the village was located near to waste drain water course which usually overflowed in rain-flood; they were not consulted during the planning and construction phases of the wastewater drain to avoid possible risks. The village has been the adverse victim of rain-flood in legendary 2011 heavy rain they were amongst the worst affected due to overflow of waste water drain and it repeated often. The contaminated wastewater was also affecting their fertile lands.

 Sharing  miseries  of rain-flood disaster the village elder Patho told us” In my life I never seen such disaster before, overflowed waste water stayed more than four months in our village, most of our mud-houses completely demolished, we had to displace to governments rescue camps or host families  for our safety, the damage might be reduced  if we rescued  earlier, it was difficult for us to stay in camps without proper food & water, many of our livestock died because of fodder scarcity  and drinking contaminated water, in camps we  were receiving  insufficient and low-quality food how our animals could be survived, our host families were also in deep trouble, unable to assist us”

People of village Patho never expected to experience an intense catastrophic situation that brought them on the verge of total socio-economic collapse, they had to wait many months for the complete evacuation of contaminated water from their village. The most critical challenge in front of them was to reconstruct new shelters, and make cropland cultivable again which was badly affected by long-stayed contaminated water, quite difficult to do as most of the assets were either destroyed or spent in bad days.

Remembering those hardship days Patho shared “It was the first time for my village people to stay in the queue for relief assistance, what they received was insufficient to meet their family needs for some days,  in camps we raised our voice for not properly addressing our genuine needs, neither any major rehabilitation work had done in village Patho. Our village was far away surrounded by flood water that made it difficult for relief workers to reach us with relief assistance, also very difficult for us as well to reach concerned government offices and representatives to raise our concerns, the waste watercourse has made our life very difficult”

Disaster-affected people of village patho rebuilt homes on a self-help base, after shifting to the village they received minor support interims of food-package for a short time which was only possible due to continuous follow-up visits to relief organizations in their offices. The poor community of village patho seems to be very concerned and afraid about the future and how they can survive if such disaster accrues often, they were unaware where to raise voice against wastewater course endangering their livelihood and environment, how to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

During focus group discussions, the Study team sensitized villagers that certain environmental changes cannot be look in isolation, and need to relate to the global changing environment which also affects us, further government must consult with the community for planning any mega project that may have serious consequences on livelihood and environment