Development Boom in Thar Brings Hope For Pakistan's Least Developed Region

New roads, an airport and a water reservoir in Tharparkar are opening up Pakistan's least developed region. Jobs are being created, drought-resistant nutritious trees and crops being planted and fish farms being established for the benefit of the the people of Thar. New water pond is attracting migratory birds that feed on fish. 

Tharparkar Peacock

Underground Water: 

Fortunately for the people of Thar, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company has discovered significant amount of underground water, the most precious commodity in drought-hit Tharparkar region of Pakistan.  Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SECMC and Thar Foundation was quoted by Business Recorder as saying, “While carrying out hydrogeological studies for Thar coal project, we found out abundant water reserves of groundwater at the depth of 450 plus feet in the whole of the desert region." The available water in Thar has the potential to irrigate thousands of acres of land by applying modern watering methods such as drip and sprinkler systems, he added. 

Rizvi said in collaboration with Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization of Karachi University, Thar Foundation has produced commercially viable amounts of Apple Ber, guava, dates, Rhodes Grass (for livestock feed), Castor (cooking) Oil, Cluster Bean (guar), and vegetables. Utilizing the underground saline water, the foundation has piloted a 40-acre plot of land to grow fruits, vegetables, and local grass species and established Sindh’s largest private sector nursery which nurtures 500,000 saplings at a time. It has also set up a 68-acre Green Park which has grown local species of trees that comprises Neem, Babur, Roheero, Kandi, Moringa, and other species.

Gorano Pond has begun to attract a lot of migratory birds that feed on fish. Some species, the report said, have even started nesting on the partly submerged tree tops, according to the Turkish Andolu News Agency

Moringa Trees Fight Malnutrition:

Aga Khan University and Sindh Agriculture University are jointly promoting Moringa tree planting in Pakistan's Thar desert to fight malnutrition, according to multiple media reports. Moringa has gained popularity as superfood in the West in recent years. People of drought-stricken Tharparkar have been suffering from malnutrition and disease in the middle of a long-running drought in the region. Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam, and the Aga Khan University will plant 40,000 moringa tree seedlings in Matiari, a rural district in central Sindh, in an effort to improve the health of malnourished mothers, children and adolescents in the area. The moringa tree plantation campaign has been funded by the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment, a $10 million fund dedicated to practical solutions to environmental problems.  

Moringa tree packs 92 essential nutrients, 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories and 18 amino acids which help your body heal and build muscle. Native to South Asia, the hardy and drought-resistant Moringa tree can contribute to everything from better vision and stronger immune system to healthier bones and skin. Moringa has 25 times more iron than spinach, 17 times more calcium than milk, 15 times more potassium than bananas and nine times more protein than yoghurt,  according to Dr. Shahzad Basra of the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan. “It also has seven times more vitamin C compared to oranges, over 10 times more vitamin A compared to carrots and three times more vitamin E compared to almonds", he added. No wonder the powder made from Moringa leaves is sold as superfood in the West. Global market for Moringa products is estimated at $5 billion and growing at 8% CAGR. 

Fish Production For Protein:

Dewatering operation of the deep aquifers underneath the coal deposits has discovered large amounts of water which has been removed and pumped into a lake called Gorano Pond. This has opened up  organic fish farming in the region. 

Gorano is 35 KMs south of the Islamkot Taulka where an artificial reservoir of 1500 Acres was established, according to Business Recorder.  Dewatering started in April 2017 from SECMC coal mine and so far, 600 Acres of the reservoir have been filled with water. More than 100,000 fish-seedlings (3-4inches in size) were initially released and within 8-9 months with full grown fish reaching more than 1Kg in weight only on natural feed (Zooplanktons, Phytoplanktons, Algae and other marine insects available in Pond) and were declared fit for consumption by an external laboratory.
Jobs For Locals:
Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), the largest contractor working in Thar desert coal project, has committed itself to hiring locals wherever possible.

When SECMC launched its Female Dump Truck Driver Program near the town of Islamkot in Thar,  Kiran Sadhwani, a female engineer, visited several villages to motivate women to apply for the job and empower themselves, according to Express Tribune newspaper. “Not all women who are working as dumper drivers are poor or in dire need of money. It is just that they want to work and earn a living for themselves and improve the lives of their families,” she told the paper. SEMC is hiring 30 women truck drivers for its Thar projects, according to Dawn newspaper.
Private Sector's Role in Thar:
Most of the social sector improvement effort in Tharparkar is part of what is known as "Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR). It is led by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Co (SECMC), and the Thar Foundation, funded by SECMC. SECMC is joint venture of Engro Corporation (Dawood Group) and Sindh government.  The Thar Foundation is a special department under SECMC that serves as the CSR office of the Thar project, and handles all the CSR work in the entire Thar area on behalf of all the funding parties. Also helping out are Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund & several universities in Sindh, including Karachi University, Aga Khan University and Tando Jam Agriculture University.
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Comment by Akhtar Hussain on February 19, 2021 at 12:12pm
Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 10:28am

Castor oil is a thick, odorless oil made from the seeds of the castor plant. Its use dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was first used as lamp fuel and later for medicinal and beauty treatments — Cleopatra reportedly believed the oil would brighten the whites of her eyes.

https://www.webmd.com/diet/castor-oil-health-benefits#1


Today, most of the world’s castor oil is produced in India. Modern research backs up some of its traditional uses, including laxative effects, anti-inflammatory properties, and the ability to help induce labor.

While studies continue to investigate other potential health benefits, castor oil is considered safe if used as directed, and can be found in a range of skin and hair care products sold today. Pure castor oil is also available at many specialty health stores.

You can put the oil directly on your skin or take it orally in small amounts. Some people also make castor “oil packs.” Castor oil packs are made of cloth that is soaked in castor oil and applied to affected areas. Because of its potency, castor oil is not used in cooking or added to food.


More than 90% of castor oil’s fatty acid content is ricinoleic acid. Research shows that this omega-9 has pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects. When applied to the skin may help relieve issues like joint pain and menstrual cramps.


Castor oil is a common ingredient in many beauty products. It’s rich in essential fatty acids that moisturize the skin, and research continues to study how their properties may be effective in treating common skin conditions.

Castor oil has also been used to help pregnant women with delivery for centuries. In fact, a survey from 1999 found that 93% of midwives in the U.S. used castor oil to induce labor. While further research is needed, one study found that castor oil initiated labor in 91% of women with little to no childbirth complications.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 10:33am

Instead of prescribing allopathic medicine, which may address only the manifestation of the illness, Eastern Medicine often treats the underlying cause: rather than slapping on chemical-laden ointment for acne, Unani Tibb physicians and Eastern Medicine practitioners would prefer removing impurities from blood through the use of neem leaves and Smilax chinensis, a plant commonly known as China root that’s used for its anti-psoriatic properties.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20201020-pakistans-ingenious-soluti...

The holistic treatments that Eastern Medicine advises, (stemming from Ayurveda and Unani Tibb), Ahmed explained, are based on the art of treating the whole person to keep the body’s elusive balance and equilibrium intact. Ahmed spent childhood weekends performing cleaning rituals of her stomach. The cleansing and laxative effect of castor oil on Saturdays, followed by probiotic-rich yoghurt on Sundays, leads to optimal gut health.

“The entire body is interconnected. You can’t expect your stomach to work one day and your brain the next,” she said, citing this approach of interconnectedness as one of the cardinal principles of Unani and Eastern medicine.

Instead of prescribing allopathic medicine, which may address only the manifestation of the illness, Eastern Medicine often treats the underlying cause: rather than slapping on chemical-laden ointment for acne, Unani Tibb physicians and Eastern Medicine practitioners would prefer removing impurities from blood through the use of neem leaves and Smilax chinensis, a plant commonly known as China root that’s used for its anti-psoriatic properties.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 4:22pm

Most of the inhabitants of the Thar desert can grow crops only after a downpour has transformed the arid land into lush greenery. But Allahrakhio Khoso, a 60-year-old farmer, does not need to wait for rain.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1571967

In the city of Nagarparkar, in the shadow of the Karoonjhar mountains, Khoso has made an orchard in the desert a reality by using matkas or pitchers — an everyday object more commonly found in the home than in the field.

After eight years, Khoso has 400 berry trees, 70 lemon trees, three mango trees and four pomegranate trees. He grows vegetables such as okra, bitter melon, onions, chilies and tinda (a type of squash), as well as watermelon, on his land in the district of Tharparkar.

Khoso can grow berries, lemons, mangoes, pomegranates, watermelon and vegetables. — Photo by Zulfiqar Khoso
In pitcher irrigation, a large clay pot with a wide bottom and narrow top is buried in the ground and filled with water. The water is slowly released into the surrounding soil and absorbed by the roots of nearby plants, minimising the amount of precious liquid lost to evaporation.

In pitcher irrigation, a large clay pot is buried in the ground near a plant and filled with water. —
Water in the desert
Rich in coal but poor in water, Thar is the largest desert zone in the province of Sindh. Its residents depend on rainfall; most people fetch their daily water from wells and store rainwater in water tanks. In summer, many wells run dry and groundwater becomes brackish.

To this day, some wells are dug without modern machinery. Recently four workers dieddigging a well when the walls fell in on them.

Water is so important a commodity that it even features in marriage negotiations; before a proposal is accepted, the parents of a bride will ask the groom’s family how close the nearest well is. In greetings, people also ask about sweet water wells.

Nevertheless, living in the desert does not mean thirst and poverty are inevitable.

How does pitcher irrigation work?
"Many years back, one of my friends came to visit our village and he discussed pitcher irrigation," said Khoso. "I got the idea and started working on it. In the beginning, it was quite hard but now it looks very simple. I thought that if I could make my farm green without rainwater, then I should go for it."

Khoso has made an orchard in the desert a reality. — Photo by Zulfiqar Khoso
To install a new pitcher, Khoso first makes a small hole in the bottom of a pitcher. He puts a rope through the hole, then buries the pitcher, packing mud and sand tightly around it. This leaves only the mouth of the pitcher exposed, which Khoso fills with water. The water seeps through the porous clay and soaks through the rope into the sand, where it is absorbed by the roots of the crops he has planted close by. As well as natural fertilisers, Khoso uses mud from Virawah, a city near Nagarparkar where there is an ancient lake.

Each pitcher is two to three feet wide and holds 10 litres of water, which will irrigate the soil for 15 to 20 days. New pitchers are better for irrigation because they are more porous and, once in place, will last three years. Khoso fetches water roughly every 10 days — there is a well on his farm, and another nearby.

For trees, Khoso uses one pitcher per plant; sometimes two pitchers for mango trees, planting trees 25 feet (7.6 metres) apart. The amount of water needed depends on the crop, with trees requiring more pitchers. Khoso now has 400 pitchers irrigating his orchard.

Khoso believes this is a more effective method than drip irrigation, where pipes release a certain amount of water and fertiliser per minute directly to the roots of each plant. He said that while drip irrigation is suitable for vegetables, for orchards pitcher irrigation can deliver water more efficiently to the plant.

He calculated that 280 litres was enough for his 400 berry trees for 10 days.

Pomegranates are one of the crops Khoso has been able to produce using his method.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:00pm

Interloop CSR Case Study In Swiss dissertation at Business University of Lausanne

With increased awareness concerning societal challenges, organizations around the globe have started realizing their responsibility towards the social and environmental concerns in addition to their economic challenges. Among these companies is also Interloop Limited, located in the sub‐continent region of South Asia, Pakistan. Interloop is an unlisted public company with majority shares owned by one family. The company is one of the world’s largest sock manufacturers and exporters with hosiery being its core business. It has an annual turnover exceeding $250 million (Company Business, 2014). Besides hosiery, Interloop is a reputed manufacturer of quality yarn. It is a vertically integrated organization with in‐house spinning, yarn dyeing, knitting and finishing facilities. Interloop Limited was established in 1992 with only 10 knitting machines on the floor but currently, Interloop houses over 3,500 knitting machines, 46,704 ring‐spinning spindles and has more than 13,000 employees (Company Business, 2014). The Company offers a wide range of socks with various quality levels and price points in line with all types of customers including brands, retailers and specialty stores, in addition to its quality yarns for denim, hosiery and the weaving industry.
In‐house designing, product development facilities and a recently established Research & Innovation Center, with a team of technical experts, have paved the way to serve Interloop customers' needs well in time. Being a full service supplier, Interloop offers a unique set of services besides offering a quality product. This includes, but is not limited to market intelligence, trend projections, product design and development support, VMI3 (Vendor Managed Inventory) services and distribution centers offering pick and pack services across the Globe (Company Business, 2014). This unique combination of product and service differentiates Interloop from the rest of the textile companies in the world and hence Interloop has the privilege of providing services to such leading retailers as JCPenny, H&M, SportMaster, Tesco, C&A, Penney, Primark,


https://www.bsl-lausanne.ch/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Interloop-Li...

MOU with The Citizens Foundation: For CSR purposes, Interloop cooperates with non‐profit organizations
(NPOs) which are doing something worthy for the development of the nation and which are sustainable
themselves (Interview Zulqarnain). An important achievement in this regard is the establishment of 14
schools, for less privileged children, in collaboration with a Non‐Profit Organization, The Citizens Foundation
(TCF).
In 2009, Interloop signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TCF which is Pakistan’s leading non‐profit
organization in the field of formal education. This was another social welfare contribution which marked
Interloop as an ethically and socially responsible organization in the minds of both the internal and external
stakeholders. Initially, 4 schools were built again in collaboration with Dobotex International and later the
number of schools increased over a period of time. Interloop proudly owns this contribution and gladly
expresses its efforts for providing quality education to the less privileged in its newsletters as well.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:00pm

PARCO has built and supported three schools with The Citizens Foundation (TCF) – a reputable NGO working in the area of imparting quality education – at Karachi and Qasba Gujrat, near PARCO Mid-Country Refinery. These schools employ all female staff belonging to the nearby communities. These campuses have generated employment for the local women to earn a decent living.

Amongst the above mentioned three campuses, the PARCO–TCF Campus I at Karachi and Campus II at Qasba Gujrat offers education till Grade V and are operating at full capacity. The PARCO-TCF Campus I at Karachi operates morning and afternoon shifts. In August 2012, the Company extended academic block of PARCO-TCF Primary Campus II to accommodate 180 students.

PARCO has built a third campus, a secondary school in Qasba Gujrat which commenced classes in April 2011. All PARCO-TCF campuses are built in under-privileged communities and impart quality education to around 1,080 children.


https://www.parco.com.pk/csr/education-health/

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:01pm

Pakistan State Oil Company Limited (PSO), the largest oil marketing company of Pakistan, has donated Rs 12 million to The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF), one of Pakistan’s leading not-for-profit in the education sector. The announcement came at a ceremony organized by PSO where MD and CEO PSO, Sheikh Imranul Haque, presented the cheque of support to the Co-founder TCF, Mr. Mushtaq Chhapra. Chairman, PSO CSR Trust, Mr. Yacoob Suttar was also present on the occasion with other officials from both organizations.
Pakistan continues to face an education emergency. Statistics suggest almost 44% (22.6 million) children between the age of 5 and 16 are out of school. PSO CSR Trust’s donation to TCF will ensure continued provision of education for deserving students from some of the most underprivileged backgrounds. Under the support agreed with TCF, PSO is adopting five TCF campuses, also constructed with PSO support, for a period of one year. Three out of five schools are located in areas hit by the terrible 2008’s earthquake.
Other than the above donation, PSO has also pledged construction of a TCF campus in one of the underdeveloped localities of the country. Member, PSO CSR Trust, Mr Baber Hamid Chaudhary and the Vice President, TCF, Mr. Zia Akhter Abbas, also signed a memorandum of understanding to confirm the support. Senior officials from both sides attended the ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sheikh Imranul Haque, MD & CEO, PSO said:
“Millions of children in Pakistan remain out of school. This brings a huge responsibility on every one of us to ensure access to education for our children. A well-educated population is important to boost the economy, broaden their outlook, and to ensure a bright future for our country.”

https://www.tcf.org.pk/2017/12/pso-adopts-tcf-schools-to-ensure-con...

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:01pm

Companies which lead CSR activities in Pakistan
Some of the local and international enterprises have realized their roles concerning CSR activities in Pakistan. Let’s have a look at how they are contributing to the cause, here in Pakistan.

1- Unilever’s role in CSR activities in Pakistan
One has to appreciate the efforts of Unilever Pakistan in this regard. Its Sustainable Living Plan outlines some key goals which are crucial to development in Pakistan. The environment is in focus majorly, as efforts are envisioned which will eventually reduce the carbon footprint in Pakistan. Known as talent hunters globally, Unilever’s employment policies constitute a major percentage of its CSR activities. However, Unilever is fully aware of the moral obligations associated with such policies. This is why we haven’t come across any cases where the corporation was accused of exploitation.

Although many remain unaware of this, Unilever is the key leader of many CSR activities in Pakistan. You might remember one such example from the advertisement called Madad aik Ibadat. A popular detergent company was the key partner in this initiative. This campaign, which still goes one as we speak, is a part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

2- PTCL’s efforts to promote CSR activities in Pakistan
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited has also set certain goals concerning social and environmental issues in Pakistan. The much-famed telecommunication company actively participates in several CSR activities in Pakistan. The major focus at PTCL revolves around health, education, environment and community service projects.

The tree-plantation drives at PTCL reflect the efforts to preserve the environment. There are also programs for children, which aim at improving children’s character and making them responsible citizens. Human resource management at any company is indicative of how employees are treated there. The agreement which PTCL made with Collective Bargaining Agent- CBA has benefitted its employees most fruitfully.

There are several other CSR activities in Pakistan in which PTCL engages actively. These include medical services for employees, blood donation drives and post-retirement beneficial schemes.

3- How Coca Cola highlighted the need for increased CSR activities in Pakistan
Bottle of change was a campaign that aimed at fundraising for Pakistan’s biggest social welfare service, The Edhi foundation. The brand leader for this mega CSR activity in Pakistan was Coca Cola. The most amazing feature of this campaign was Coca Cola’s paramount interest. The brand promised that it will double any donations it received during this fundraiser. Women Entrepreneurship Program, a gold winner at SABRE gold awards 2016, is another hallmark of Coca Cola’s CSR activities.

These two fine examples show that Coca Cola is a key leader in CSR activities in Pakistan. It will be wondrous if more companies could follow the suit!

4- MCB’s major contributions in CSR activities in Pakistan
It would be unfair, not to mention the contributions of MCB in this regard. Several Corporate Social Responsibility activities in Pakistan wouldn’t have been possible, had it not been for MCB’s active participation. These activities target various aspects of governance, culture, sports, health, and education.


https://www.transparenthands.org/csr-activities-in-pakistan/

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 9:03pm

A massive solar energy project to power more than 200,000 homes in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province has been initiated.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/pakistan-solar-project-to-...

The provincial government has finalised the environment-friendly project with the suppliers to provide solar-powered electricity to 200,000 households in 10 districts of Sindh, the provincial energy minister Imtiaz Shaikh said. The 10 districts include Badin, Tharparkar, Khairpur, Sujawal, Mithi, Sanghar, Ghotki, Kashmore, Jacobabad and Qambar Shahdadkot.

The $30 million initiative for rural households with low or no grid access is part of the Sindh Solar Energy Project (SSEP) that aims to increase solar power generation and access to electricity in Sindh province. The World Bank has provided $100 million of financing for SSEP to support utility-scale solar power, distributed solar on and around public buildings, and provision of solar systems to households.


The SSEP project includes a 400MW solar park at Manjhand town in Jamshoro district at a cost of $40 million, a $25 million project to install rooftop solar systems on public sector buildings in Karachi and Hyderabad with 20MW capacity, and the $30 million to provide 200,000 rural households access to affordable solar home systems.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 24, 2021 at 9:01am

Parc working to ensure food security in Thar - Newspaper

https://www.dawn.com/news/1598608

 

Parc North Zone Director Dr Attaullah said that 14 varieties of guava, matching the local ecology, were also developed and distributed among the farmers to develop fruit orchids.

Besides, 38 varieties of dates were also grown and 13 types of different grasses over 10 acres of land were also grown, he said adding that these interventions had helped create livelihood opportunities as well as fulfilling the food requirements of the local communities.

Meanwhile, forest blocks were also established on four acres and different fruit plants including olive cultivated, he said adding that jojoba plants were grown over 45 acres in order to develop orchards and fruit farming in these areas.

In collaboration with the local foundation, about 50,000 plants of different kinds including fruits and trees for shadow had also been provided to 20 villages, he added.

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