Pakistan’s Tharparkar district is entering its third straight year of drought, with nearly 200 deaths since January — many of them children, writes Ashraf Ali.
As I travel through the drought devastated Tharparkar district of Sindh province I am overcome in equal measure by shame and sorrow. Sorrow for the scores of children who have died in the drought and shame that these deaths could occur in modern Pakistan. Already, I have encountered Jamna, who was taken to hospital only after developing fits at home.
“She started shivering and stopped her food intake to become weak day by day,” Jamna’s grandmother Kasturi said.
“A day later she started coughing severely, that prompted us to get her into a local health facility.” Then Jamna, 18 months old, was shifted to the district hospital at Mithi, the regional centre, where doctors diagnosed her as suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
Kasturi, who is 57, lives with 11 family members in a hut in the village of Moduru, located near the Pakistan-India border and 380 kilometres east of Karachi. She works at a farm along with her husband, Popu Chand, to feed their family. Jamna’s mother, as custom dictates, must minimise her contact with men and attend to home duties.
This is the third consecutive year of drought. Officially it has claimed 185 people, mostly children, since the beginning of January.Independent sources put the figure at well over 200.
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