Diversifying to Become Independent
Tharparkar in southeastern Pakistan – until a few years ago, this barren strip of land offered neither food nor employment. Those that did live here left at the earliest opportunity. Thanks to a Welthungerhilfe project, the people here are now doing better. They bring in good harvests and want to stay.
Can you imagine having to skip several meals in a row? Many people in the district of Tharparkar in Pakistan have to do so. Almost half of the people in the southeastern portion of the province of Sindh live beneath the poverty line. In order to save money or because they simply have nothing with which to buy food, many adults regularly skip meals.
Weather Extremes and Poverty Define Daily Life
The families in Tharparkar live extremely modestly. They have houses with neither water nor electricity, and the lucky ones own a small piece of farmland and a few sheep or goats. Almost nothing grows in this very dry strip of land, for which reason agricultural yields are meagre and not sufficient to live from. There are no other available sources of income. Extreme weather events such as torrential rain with flooding or droughts make the situation even worse: Crops fail and animals die.
Men Leave Their Families Behind
In their desperation, many men leave the region to look for work in metropoles such as Karachi or Hyderabad. The rest of the family stays behind, left to fend for itself. A project of Welthungerhilfe and its local partner organisation, Research & Development Foundation (RDF), supports 5,000 vulnerable smallholder families from 30 villages in improving their living standards in the long term.
In order to decrease the number of Tharparkar residents forced to leave their home in the future, Welthungerhilfe and RDF are helping the smallholder families to gain additional income sources. Old and young are offered professional development in industrial and technical fields.
Since Welthungerhilfe became active in Tharparkar, more and more smallholder families have been scoring clear successes in agriculture and earning more money. It is also increasingly less common for people to go hungry for days on end for economic reasons. The option of developing professionally in a variety of fields gives people reason to be optimistic about the future.