International Day of Climate Change Celebrated in Booni, Chitral

Submitted by Shams Uddin on Thu, 2010-08-26 00:39.
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International Day of Climate Change Celebrated in Booni, Chitral

1. Introduction & Background

10/10/10 International Day of Climate Change was celebrated in Booni, Chitral, Pakistan, in the premises of Orion School of Learning (OSL) through the facilitation of Destination Management Organization (DMO) Chitral and 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--community leadership, women representatives, literary figures, volunteers, parents and students--participated in the event. The day has had significance for the people of Booni as they have recently witnessed a flood destroying their valuable property and causing them major health problems, psychological trauma and infrastructure disruption.

Participants of IDCC, Booni, ChitralParticipants of IDCC, Booni, Chitral

2. Objective

The objective of OCt 10th event was to join the worldwide community of supporters and activists in highlighting climate problems—breaking of glacier, untimely melting of snow, frequent floods and unpredictable climate conditions—in the Hindu Kush Mountains.

3. Speeches

Mr Sadruddin, the principal of Orion School of Learning (OSL) called for greater support to save the Booni village by protecting its natural evironment, encouraging families to offer environmental education at home so that their children, once they are admitted to schools, will have more interest in relevant subjects. Mr. Sadruddin also said that public and private school curriculum should incorporate subjects related to ecological conservation and natural biodiversity, as well as emphasizing that better teacher training is critical for sound development of environmental education in the region.

“The natural beauty of Chitral,” said Mr Shams Uddin, Coordinator DMO Chitral, “is an asset that this destination has, which we can market to attract visitors. However, climate change is going to erode the base natural resources and environment – a valuable tourism product.”

Mr. Amir Akber Khan, an environmental advocate and social worker, said that “we should not lose any more time waiting for another catastrophe to happen.” We have to stand united to tackle the future floods through proper canalization of the stream bed; effectively coordinated fund raising campaigns in Booni to help save the village from further destruction; restricting grazing on the Booni Gol rangeland; and helping local people to increase their own capacity to support their livelihoods. Mr. Khan noted that the breaking of the Booni glacier was an eye-opener for the local communities, and that it should be an opportunity to raise awareness of these issues and challenges.

4. Theatre

A group of local students arranged a theatre performance centering on the Booni flood and its aftermath. The play they enacted depicted social, political and cultural complexities in times of crisis and highlighted the helpfulness of modern technology. For instance, mobile phone was used as an instrument of Early Warning System (EWS) by volunteers high up in the Booni stream. Similarly, the play depicted individuals who remained oblivious to natural hazards as they basically lacked basic knowledge to assess the enormity of a natural disaster.

Play on Booni Flood is Being Enacted During IDCCPlay on Booni Flood is Being Enacted During IDCC

5. Songs for Nature

The students also presented songs of nature and the serene beauty of the Chitral valley, its lakes, snow-capped peaks, forest, alpine meadows, flowers, medicinal herbs, fruits and crops, all of which are sustained by a fine balance of the natural environment. The singers mourned the missing of the valuable bird species from the ecological chain that most of the participants grew up with when they were young people.

Songs of Nature by Students of OSLSongs of Nature by Students of OSL

6. Poems

‘Don’t turn my heaven into hell’ was the theme of poetic session. The student poets wisely couched the issues of climate change into poetic language. They appealed to the sentiments of the audience to keep the natural environment from being degraded into a sort of ‘hell’ by becoming unbearably hot. Further, funny anecdotes related to nature were shared with the participants. 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 critically analysis the local politics, poverty, corruption and forced marriage and other social issues.

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.

Placard Bearing Walk of OSL Students During IDCCPlacard Bearing Walk of OSL Students During IDCC

The participants of the International Day of Climate Change in Booni, Chitral, northern Pakistan, put forward the following recommendations:

• That there has to be an effective fund raising campaign by the local communities to save Booni from the catastrophe of natural calamities in future. To this end, every household has to contribute a sizeable amount even if they have to sell out their livestock.

• The environmental-unfriendly practice of irrational grazing of Booni Gol rangeland by the nomads with 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 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 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 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 water. This way materials that the flood deposited all along the stream bed, could be washed into the Mastuj River.

• 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 the organizers of International Day of Climate Change, which the local community so urgently needed.

Please visit us at the following website links to know about our last year activity:

Thanks for reading the report!

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