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Booni, Chitral, Pakistan | by 350.org
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Booni, Chitral, Pakistan

*1. **Introduction & Background*

 

10/10/10 International Day of Climate Change was celebrated in Booni,

Chitral, Pakistan, through the joint venture of Chitral Association for

Mountain Area Tourism (CAMAT) and Orion School of Learning (OSL). The event

was facilitated by 350.org. the theme of the day was ‘Breaking of Booni

Glacier, Its Relation to Climate Change’. As many as 500 people from

different walks of life e.g. community leadership, women representatives,

scholars, volunteers, parents and students participated.

 

The day has had significance for the people of Booni, Chitral as they have

recently witnessed a devastating flood destroying their valuable property

and causing them major health problems, psychological twists and

infrastructure disruption. This bitter experience has sensitized the locals

to seriously think about saving the natural environment.

 

*2. **Objective*

 

The objectives to observe the day was to join the worldwide communities in

highlighting problems—breaking of glacier, untimely melting of snow,

frequent floods and unpredictable climate conditions—in the Hindu Kush

Mountains apart from sensitizing the local communities.

 

* *

 

The activities of International Day of Climate Change were as follows:

 

*3. **Speeches*

 

To begin with, speeches aimed at enumerating the prospects of climate change

in the Hindu Kush Mountains, were delivered. Mr Sadruddin, the principal of

Orion School of Learning (OSL) impressed upon the participants to prepare

themselves and their children for the protection of Booni village by

protecting natural environment. He pointed out that such preparation could

be attained through inculcating environmental-friendly education to children

within the family right from their childhood. In turn, this will make the

task easier for teachers, once they are admitted to schools. He also said

that ecology/ natural biodiversity had to be included into the curriculum of

government/ private schools as compulsory subject right from class 1st.

Meanwhile; teachers need to be imparted skill enhancement training with

regards to natural environment.

 

Mr Shams Uddin, Manager CAMAT, who was also organizer of the event, upheld

that nature has the characteristics quite like those of a loving mother.

Nonetheless, the difference is that ‘mother’ along with her children is

dependant on a healthy ‘mother nature’ for sustainable life. Nature feeds us

with a variety of cereals, fruits and vegetable. It provides us with oxygen

and clean water to mention a few. Bearing this in mind, we have to take

great care of nature, the manifestation of which could be the adoption of

environmental-friendly manners and values by the entire society.

 

Advocate Amir Akber Khan, himself a social worker, said that we did not have

to loose time waiting for another catastrophe to happen. We have to stand

united to tackle the flood in future. First, proper canalization of the

stream bed stream is paramount importance. Second, ‘as charity begins at

home’, there has to be hectic and coordinated fund raising campaign in the

Booni village. “In order to save the village from further devastation, even

livestock have to be sold out and the same amount be invested on canalizing

the stream bed and construction of protective walls along the stream line”,

he said. Meanwhile, grazing on the Booni Gol rangeland has to be

restricted

for ever. Without coming forward to deal with the problem with our own

resources, we should not expect government and NGOs to play role in this

regard.

 

He categorized the local communities into those educated ones who read out

from books and watch television that is helpful in raising their

understanding and motivate them for practical action. Second, there are

people who just learn from witnessing some unforgettable events being

unfolded, as was the breaking of the Booni glacier, which he termed as an

eye-opener for the people.

 

*4. **Theatre*

 

The students arranged an exciting theatre centering on the Booni flood and

its aftermath. The play they enacted depicted social, political, cultural

complexities in times of crisis and highlighted the helpfulness of modern

technology. For instance, mobile phone was used as an instrument for Early

Warning System (EWS) by volunteers high up in the Booni stream. Similarly,

they played of individuals who remained oblivious towards natural hazards as

they basically lacked the inbuilt knowledge and skills to assess the

enormity of a natural disaster. Likewise lack of medical care,

non-existence of portable water that led to widespread water born diseases

was effectively highlighted. Further, the women’s drudgery of fetching water

from long distance for household use and cattle constituted interesting part

of the play.

 

The participants appreciated the efficiency of the students in preparing the

theatre work and the way they played.

 

*5. **Songs for Environment*

 

The students sang songs of love for nature apart from the serene beauty of

the Chitral district with its lakes, snow-capped peaks, forest, alpine

meadows, flowers, medicinal herbs, fruits and crops, all of which depend on

a suitable natural climate. The singers mourned the missing of the valuable

bird species from the ecological chain. Some birds used to live when most of

the participants were young people. It was indicated that climate change has

been responsible for the migration/ extinction of the precious bird species.

 

*6. **Poems*

 

*‘Don’t turn my heaven into hell’ *was the theme of poetic session. The

student poets wisely couched the issues climate change into poetic language.

They appealed to the sentiments of the participants to save the natural

environment of the region to degrade into a sort of ‘hell’ by becoming

unbearably hot. Further, funny anecdotes related to natural environment were

shared with the audients. Pieces of engaging wits were skillfully blended

into making the cause of climate change more motivating. It must be noted

that *Khowar* poetic sessions have been used as an effective tool of

campaign to mobilize communities for political issues, poverty, financial

corruption and forced marriage and so on.

 

*7. **Walk*

 

A placard bearing walk of parents and students through the Booni village was

taken out from OSL, which ended as it reached near the Booni Market. The

purpose of the walk was to spread the message of International Day of

Climate Change amongst the villagers.

 

The participants of the International Day of Climate Change in Booni,

Chitral, northern Pakistan, put forward the recommendations as follows:

 

· That there has to be an effective fund raising campaign by the

local communities to protect the Booni from the catastrophe of natural

hazards in future. To this end, every household has to contribute a sizeable

amount even if they have sell out their livestock.

 

· The environmental-unfriendly practice of irration grazing of the

Booni Gol rangeland by the nomads, who keep as many as 6000 goats and sheep,

has to be halted forthwith.

 

· Standard research work by reputed glaciologists and environment

scientists is what the participants recommended to properly evaluate,

understand and establish authentic baseline data on the deteriorating

condition of natural environment in the mountains of Chitral.

 

· In order to protect the Booni from the spillover of mud-flood in

future, check dams need to be constructed in the side valleys high up in the

Booni Gol rangeland.

 

· Protective walls have to be constructed at different points where

the flood has already broken into the villages. However, such protective

walls have to be technically sound with their foundation deep into the

ground.

 

· Deforestation of juniper, birch and shrubs in the Booni Gol

rangeland has to be immediately stopped and efforts for plantation on a wide

scale has to be undertaken by communities/ school students.

 

· The bed of the Booni stream needs to be canalized to provide

permanent course for the stream. This way the stream can wash into the

Mastuj River the material that the flood deposited all along the stream bed.

 

· There have to be awareness raising seminars, workshops and

conferences on climate change and its impacts on the mountainous communities

of Chitral.

 

· Last but not the least, the participants thanked Chitral

Association for Mountain Area Tourism (CAMAT) and Orion School of Learning

(OSL) for organizing the event of International Day of Climate Change, which

the local community so urgently needed.

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Taken on October 10, 2010