Wisdom of Life

Project 5

Community Environmental Assessment in the Earthquake Affected Areas 

Timeframe:

08 Months

Donors / Sponsors:

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Geographical Coverage :

AzadJammu&Kashmir(AJK) and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw (KP) Province

Goals and Objectives :

The overall goals of the study are to assess the environmental impacts of the earthquake on forestry, agriculture and community infrastructure and prepare strategy and series of guidelines to mitigate the impacts of the earthquake on environment. Objectives of

Environmental Assessment are:

  • To assess the exact nature and quantum of environmental damages caused by the earthquake in KP Province and AJK on forestry, pasture, agriculture, livestock and community-based infrastructure. This study will include the information on the affected environment, impacts, avoidance & minimization related to different sectors, and recommended mitigation measures.
  • To develop a strategy, based on that series of guidelines and measures, to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation in the areas of forestry, community-based infrastructure, livestock and agriculture as interventions of the CBLRP.
  • To assess the exact demand of timber required for rehabilitation and reconstruction of buildings and use of fuel wood, and identify various means and mechanisms to fulfill the demand in a way, which would have least environmental consequences in short and long-term.
  • Based on the above, to formulate a gender balanced, sustainable and environment friendly comprehensive land-use and reforestation plan for the four pilot micro-catchments.

Outputs :

  •       Environmental Assessment Study
  •       Strategy to mitigate environmental degradation through a community-based approach
  •       Guidelines for mitigation of environmental degradation in
  1. Forestry interventions
  2.  Infrastructure interventions
  3. Agricultural and pasture intervention
  •       Land and Forest Resource Rehabilitation and Development Plan for the four pilot micro-catchments
  •       Workshop for CBLRP staff and stakeholders

Key Tasks:

The following tasks were undertaken for accomplishment of the above objectives:

  • Environmental Assessment

Through secondary sources, data on environmental damages were collected and then verified by carrying out survey of the affected areas by transect walks, questionnaire, in depth interviews and focus group discussions. The data/information was analyzed and environmental assessment for different sub-sectors was carried out with respect to extent of environmental damages, their causes and nature of environmental neglect.

  •       Strategy to Mitigate Environmental Degradation

Based on analysis of the environmental damages and recovery efforts made by local community, various agencies, concerned governments etc., gaps and missing links were identified in every sector. A comprehensive strategy was prepared for addressing these gaps followed by rehabilitation of environmental degradation.

  •       Guidelines for Mitigation of Environmental Degradation

Mitigation of environmental degradation requires implementation of mitigate measures on ground in line with the strategy. For giving practical shape to the above-mentioned strategy, series of guidelines were prepared for interventions in every sector.

  •       Resource Rehabilitation and Development Plan

A comprehensive land and forest resource rehabilitation and development plan specific to four pilot micro catchments i.e. Lawasi, Heer Kotli, Dumdar and Gulmaira was prepared

  •       Consultative Workshops

Two stakeholders’ consultative workshops, one at Mansehra and the other at Muzaffarabad were conducted for getting feedback from stakeholders on the overall findings of the study report. Recommendations of the workshops were taken into account while developing the strategy and the guidelines for mitigating the effects of environmental degradation.

Methodology and Approach:

In the beginning of study, the EA consultants in consultation with CBLRP prepared a work plan for the study period. As per requirements of the sponsors, an inception report indicating the activities and their time lines were prepared and submitted. Project documents, literature available on the subject and progress reports of CBLRP were reviewed for getting first hand knowledge of the situation.

The EA consultants used various tools, techniques and methods for collection of secondary and primary data. The data regarding basic information of the area were collected from various sources like Population Census Organization,Forest, Agriculture, Public Works, Local Govt. Departments, etc. working in Tehsil Balakot and Tehsil Muzaffarabad. The data for damages were obtained from the respective departments of AJK and NWFP, assessments studies carried out so far by various agencies like ERRA, IUCN, USAID and CARE International, etc. This information was verified through field visits of EA consultants, meeting with stakeholders’COs, VOs and questionnaire survey. Data on population and its indicators were obtained from 1998 census conducted by Population Census Organization, Statistics Division, Government of Pakistan (GoP). This data has been extrapolated where possible. Where extrapolation was not possible, figures of 1998 Census were used. The following formula has been used for extrapolation:

 

PN = P0 (1+R)t

 

Where

PN = Estimated population as of 2005

P0 = Population of 1998 census

R = % growth rate

t = Time from 1998 (in years)

 The questionnaire based survey was carried out obtaining information on environmental damages in the pilot catchment areas. A total of 40 households, 10 each from four areas were selected. The households were selected on random in such a way to represent the whole area. The selected households were asked to record damages to their homes, livelihood resources, and resources of water, property and natural resources. They were also asked to indicate their requirements of timber firewood and how they procure timber and fuel wood. Response was also sought on impact of earthquake on women and socio-economic activates. EA team analyzed the data and formulated a draft strategy for mitigating the effects of environmental degradation in the areas of forestry, community based infrastructure and agriculture in the domain of CBLRP. A draft report of the study was prepared, that was presented for discussion in consultative workshops held one each in Muzaffarabad and Mansehra from 18 – 19 March 2008.

Stakeholders identified in consultation with CBLRP attended the workshops. In both workshops, the EA consultants presented findings of the study. In Muzaffarabad, views of the participants on the report were sought through open house discussion and in Mansehra through group work.

Based on findings of the study and suggestions of the workshops’ participants a strategy and a series of guidelines were prepared for mitigation of impact of environmental damages in the target area. Based on the strategy and guidelines, Land and Forest Resource Rehabilitation and Development Plan for the four pilot micro catchments were prepared.

Conclusion and Recommendations:

The earthquake 2005 was an unprecedented and catastrophic event in the area causing huge losses of lives and property. The severity of damages was exacerbated due to fragile mountain ecosystem, poor construction & living practices and environmental degradation. As a result, recovery and rehabilitation of the livelihoods and natural ecosystem on sustainable basis is a real challenge. Therefore, it requires commitment at all levels of policy, planning and implementation followed by coordination and integration of efforts by all the development players involved in one way or the other. This is not possible for any one organization or a project such as CBLRP to undertake actions that are required. However, collective efforts of all the actively involved organizations would certainly result into a great positive impact for rehabilitation of the area.

The damages occurred within a few minutes will require many years or in some cases decades to rehabilitate, Therefore, it requires that for greater efficiency and impact of the efforts, development planning is carried out by the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders

Environmental assessment of all the activities not only under CBLRP, but of all the on-going projects would help a great deal in sustainable rehabilitation of the area. The environmental strategy, series of guidelines and measures along with land use and forest resource rehabilitation plan are intended to serve for sustainable development of the area under CBLRP. Therefore, CBLRP may need to develop a rational mechanism of coordination to take along all the stakeholders in the development process.

Agriculture has never been an enterprising activity either before or after the earthquake. It has been practiced on subsistence basis. Crop production is too low to return the actual expenditure. Due to extreme poverty, absence of support system like agriculture credit, quality seed and market mechanism, farmers are not able to switch over to non-conventional crops like vegetables and fruit orchards. High yielding fodder is not priority crop and communities are not able to adopt effective measures for improving soil productivity and prevention of soil erosion. Farmers have still not been able to effectively repair damages to the irrigation channels, which they had been maintaining on self-help basis before the earthquake.

Recovery and promotion of agriculture vis-à-vis the environmental conservation would require interventions to rehabilitate terraces, irrigation channels and measures to soil erosion control. To increase per unit production, agriculture has to be shifted from agronomy to horticulture in the study area. Livestock sector is playing a major role for providing livelihood opportunities to the affected communities of the study area. However, the existing stock is low yielding and huge in number which lays great pressure on grazing fields. Fodder cultivation has no place in cropping system of the area. Therefore, the only way to have livestock is open grazing. Provision of high yielding breeds of livestock and introduction of high production fodder will reduce number of livestock and increase production of dairy products resulting in reducing pressure on the rangelands.

The earthquake has damaged 95% building infrastructure in the area that will require

3,743,425m3 of standing volume of trees, which is too high for the adjoining forests to support on sustainable basis. Therefore, it is suggested that alternate construction material is provided in the area to save forests. About 98% of population use forest wood for fuel wood. It requires on the one hand plantation of fast growing species and on the other hand, provision of alternate sources of energy to reduce pressure on forest resources.

Landslides and landslips in the aftermath of the earthquake have posed great challenge to agriculture, forest and residential lands. Landslide stabilization through bioengineering is recommended for conservation of environment and mitigation of land degradation. Road construction in mountainous area exposes the land to landslides and soil erosion. Therefore, it is recommended that proper protection support and tree/grass plantation on unfastened and open sites along roads should be established as part of each road construction project.

For effective enforcement, the rules, regulations and guidelines of the national, provincial and state level disaster management laws must be implemented at local level. Use of Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs) in reconstruction, land management and livelihoods development such as prefabricated housing units as demonstrated by the state of the art technology by various agencies, non timber forest products, sericulture, apiculture, mushroom rearing, courtyard poultry, livestock, fisheries and skill development in line with the provisions of the environmental regulations will facilitate sustainable development.

Supply of natural gas to Muzaffarabad as already announced by the Federal Government will greatly help in decreasing pressures on the forests mostly cut for firewood. Prefabricated housing units using a mix of local and imported material mostly comprising of iron beams and GI sheet roofs must be encouraged. The plantation of fast growing tree species on all barren mountains coupled with provision of subsidy on LPG will play an important role in conservation of mountain ecosystem.

 

Conserving Natural Resource Base and Promoting Human Development through Sharing Knowledge, Exchanging Practices and Co-creating Future