19 June 2000



Following severe drought in Baluchistan, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission supported by UNDP visited the province in May to estimate the extent of the problem, the repercussions on food production and supply and the need for food assistance in 2000/01. Mission findings are based on field visits to worst affected areas and discussions with government and UN officials, farmers and representatives of various NGOs.

The mission found that almost the complete failure of rainfall this year, seriously undermined crop and livestock production, compromising both the livelihood and food security of large numbers of vulnerable people. The situation being made much worse as this was the third drought year in succession, and many farm families had still not recovered from last two years events. Rainfed wheat failed almost entirely, whilst yields of irrigated wheat were seriously reduced. The outlook is also poor for this year's kharif (monsoon) crops and the rice harvest. The Mission, therefore, estimates cereal output at 1.2 million tonnes, 20 percent below average. Against this the province requires a total of 1.293 million tonnes to cover utilisation needs, leaving an overall deficit of 93 000 tonnes for the 2000/01 marketing year.

Although from a national perspective the deficit is not large, a sizeable proportion of the population, particularly nomads, effectively have no purchasing power as a result of crop and livestock losses over two consecutive years of drought. In other words, the real problem does not lie in total availability, but instead relates to lack of means to access food. Large numbers of nomad and trans humant populations and many sedentary households face extreme hardships and, as the marketing year 2000/01 progresses, their conditions will deteriorate further as they will exhaust the few coping mechanisms that they may still have.

To counter the crisis, the Government has already provided Rs1 billion for food and animal feed, whilst a further Rs 1.5 billion is reserved for the province and will be released if monsoon rains are poor. Thirty-five relief centers have also been established for providing relief in the 22 affected districts. The centers are distributing points for food and feed. In addition eight camps have been established, providing food and health care, for displaced households who have had to leave their homes in search of food and water. However, Government policy is encouraging people to stay in villages so that food is taken to them. A major problem in reaching affected households is the sparse nature of population distribution. The worst affected areas, therefore, are the remote villages, especially along the border with Afghanistan. Government resources are only able to meet the food needs of part of the affected population. Some NGOs and private parties are also distributing small quantities of food aid and other items. Additional emergency food assistance will be required for the affected population to meet the gap and the Government has requested WFP for food assistance. In response WFP is implementing an immediate emergency operation for 6 weeks the objectives of which will be to maintain health and nutrition status of the affected population during the emergency situation, preserve productive assets of households in the affected areas and prevent mass migration. The operation will provide some 16 456 tonnes of wheat, 987 tonnes each of pulses and oil to meet these objectives.

Overall, even if the rains are satisfactory this year, there will be no harvest of the main staple wheat till next May, whilst recovery in the livestock sector will also take considerable time. The next twelve months, therefore, will be critical even under a favourable rainfall scenario. Need less to say, that if the rains fail the food situation amongst vulnerable groups will be catastrophic. Appropriate and timely preventative measures, including food and health assistance and provisions of seeds, therefore, are urgently advocated to avert such a possibility.



Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan, covering some 44 percent of total geographical area. However only 4.9 percent of the national population live there. Most of the area is range land, with only 5 percent arable. The livestock sector is very important with the province housing some 20 percent of the national stock. However, with little manufacturing and underdeveloped infrastructure, the province's economy lags far behind other parts of the country, whilst the incidence of poverty is extremely high.

Water, critical for humans and livestock is in short supply even in satisfactory years. The main sources are rainfall and snow with long term average availability being around 150 mm per annum. There is some canal irrigation which receives adequate water, but sometimes, as has been the case this year, flow is severely reduced. In addition, over the past 15 or 20 years increasing numbers of tubewells have been installed to extract ground water for irrigation purposes. Currently, there are 22 500 tubewells in the province. However, limited rainfall, implying grossly inadequate ground water recharge on the one hand and continuous large-scale ground water pumping on the other have together caused the water table to fall appreciably. Available estimates suggest that it has been declining by 2-3 metres a year in many areas. As the water table declines, tubewells were being dug deeper to access water. This process has been exacerbated by a low, flat electricity rate of Rs4 000 per month applied to the submergible electric pump owners. In some areas, as a result, water is available only at depths of 200-300 metres. The water crisis situation has been further compounded in the province as it received less than half of the long term average rainfall in 1998/99 with many areas receiving little or virtually no rainfall in 1999/2000 (only 14 percent of the long term average, ranging from zero to a maximum of 28 percent).

Out of a total of 26 districts, 23 were affected by drought this year, seven very severely. However, the situation in some of the moderately affected districts have been worsening, notably Zhob. The worst affected districts account for 59 percent of the provincial total rainfed area. However, the number of tubewells in these districts is 13 700 or 61 percent of the provincial total, accounting for 57 percent of the total tubewell irrigated area in the province. Clearly, a disproportionate concentration of tubewells in these districts, mining water and accentuating water scarcity year after year, has been a major cause of the present water crisis. A large proportion of the traditional water sources, Karezes and springs, have dried up in the most affected districts over the years.

In addition to the damage to crop production, livestock rearing has also been severely affected by the water scarcity in the worst affected districts which account for 45 percent and 35 percent respectively of the provincial sheep and goat population.



3.1 Rainfall in 1999/2000

The rains this year in Baluchistan were two months late, highly inadequate and poorly distributed (Figure 1). Precipitation was reduced by up to 75-80 percent in many areas and 100 percent in more than 50 percent of the stations monitored. The reduced rainfall was also accompanied by increases in minimum ambient temperatures which increased evapo-transpiration.

Undisplayed Graphic

In addition, winter rainfall was also low in the Indus catchment area, which consequently reduced irrigation supplies in the Nasirabad division in Baluchistan. Certainly good monsoon rains will be needed this year for the Kharif crop due for planting in July.

3.2 Cereal Production

From a national perspective, wheat production this year is officially being forecast at around 22 million tonnes, which would be sufficient to meet national requirements and leave a surplus. However, cereal production in Baluchistan was very poor, declining by some 23 percent compared to the average of the past four years. Tables 1 show relative cereal production in the country and province.

Table 1:Cereal Production in Pakistan as a whole and in the Baluchistan Province - Average 1995/96-1998/99

Cereal Total Pakistan
`000 tonnes
Baluchistan Province
`000 tonnes
17 527
6 545
Other cereals (maize, sorghum, millet)
2 119
All cereals
26 191
1 509

Wheat: This year the production of the irrigated wheat crop is expected to be 560 000 million tonnes with a drop of around 20 percent compared to 697 000 tonnes produced in 1999. Irrigated wheat yields have been affected both in the tube well irrigated areas as well as in the canal irrigated areas in the Nasirabad division. The latter has suffered this year from a significant reduction of water flow, with that in February, at tillering stage, only 34 percent of normal.

In the tube well irrigated area, the water table continued falling, especially as there was no recharge this year from additional rainfall. In such areas one of the coping strategies of the farmers tended to be to devote the reduced availability of irrigation water to the fruit tree crops in order to ensure survival of plantations and adequate production levels of these cash crops. Accordingly, irrigated wheat crop yields due to the limited number of irrigations dropped significantly.

The rainfed wheat crop has almost completely failed. In the most affected districts land was prepared but not sown. Rainfed output is estimated to be some 5 000 tonnes, less than 10 percent of last year.

Overall, therefore, 1999/2000 wheat production is forecast at 565 000 tonnes, 25 percent below last year and 32 below average.

Paddy output is projected at 588 000 tonnes, about average but 8 percent below 1999.

Coarse grains: The output of coarse grains (barley, sorghum, maize and millet) is expected to be significantly below average and 11 percent below last year

Estimated cereal production this year compared to average is indicated in Table 2. whilst table 3 gives a break down in yields and area in the province by affected and non affected districts.

Table 2: Baluchistan - Cereal Production 1999-2000 compared with the average of previous four years ('000 tonnes)

Percent change
1 509
1 213
1/ Estimated
2/ Outlook

Table 3: Baluchistan - Cereal area, yields and production 1999 and 2000

('000 ha)
('000 tonnes)
('000 ha)
('000 tonnes)
Wheat Irrigated
Most affected districts
82 554
203 301
104 620
151 699
Other districts
184 561
493 723
208 467
408 595
total irrigated wheat
267 115
697 024
313 087
560 294
Wheat Rainfed
Most affected districts
26 668
10 402
5 675
Other districts
20 167
41 244
12 233
4 893
total rainfed wheat
46 835
51 646
17 908
4 893
All Wheat
313 950
748 670
330 995
565 188
148 000
639 000
142 000
588 000
Other Cereals
60 000
67 000
60 000
60 000

3.3 Livestock Production

The estimated livestock population in Baluchistan in 1999 was: 1 402 000 Cattle, 213 000 buffaloes, 10 761 000 sheep and 10 098 000 goats.

The provincial range land area amounts to some 65 percent of the total land or about 22 million ha. Considering a dry matter unit production of 150 kg per hectare , the total available dry edible matter output per year (in normal years) amounts to 3.3 million tonnes against a feed requirement of the animal population (only the small ruminants) of some 6.3 million tonnes. Hence, the range lands' carrying capacity has been exceeded over the years by the growing animal population which nevertheless represents the main or the sole source of livelihood for the trans humants and nomads.

The drought this year had severe adverse impact on livestock raising. The most affected districts account for 45 percent and 35 percent of provincial population of sheep and goat respectively. This year the meagre edible biomass production has dried up due to absence of rainfall and has thus not been able to maintain the livestock. Heavy losses in the order of 45 to 55 percent for sheep and 30 to 40 percent for goats in terms of higher mortality and forced culling rates were noted. In these districts there has been a smaller number of new-borns and these have been sold, have died or have been sent to other provinces depriving the flocks of the replacement stock. Domestic production of sheep and goat milk is estimated by the Mission to be down by some 70-80 percent in the most affected districts.

Feed in terms of concentrates and roughage is, therefore, urgently needed to maintain a minimum of about 1.2 million small ruminants' selected breeding stock in the most affected districts. Concentrate requirements would amount to some 65 000 tonnes. As an alternative UMBs (Urea-molasses blocks) for 32 500 tonnes could be provided. This feed should suffice for nine months until next lambing season. Moreover, drenching medicines and non-dipping medicaments against internal and external parasites are needed.

3.4 Cereal Supply/Demand Situation 2000/01

The cereal balance sheet for Baluchistan for 2000/01 (Table 4) is based on the following assumptions:

Table 4: Baluchistan - Cereal Balance Sheet, 2000/01 (`000 tonnes)

Rice (milled)1/
Total Availability
1 013
Stock draw down
Domestic production
Total utilization
1 106
Food use
Feed, seed, losses
Stock build-up
1/ Paddy to rice conversion rate: 67 percent.

On a provincial basis, Baluchistan faces a cereal deficit of 93 000 tonnes in 2000/01. For wheat, the deficit is 348 000 tonnes while there is a rice surplus of 255 000 tonnes. Although wheat is preferred, at times of food shortages rice, if available, will certainly be consumed more.



4.1 Government Measures

The Government of Pakistan has provided Rs1 billion for both animal and human feed. Another Rs1.5 billion is reserved for Baluchistan and its release depends upon the south-west monsoon rains. Thirty-five relief centers have been established for providing relief in the 22 affected districts. The centers are distributing points for stock feed and food for humans. During the first phase of Government programme, the objective was to provide stock feed to 25,000 livestock farmers for ten weeks to maintain breeding stock. In some of the districts the amount of stock feed that is being provided has been adjusted to five weeks as the requirement outstrips the demand for relief.

The second phase of the Government programme, including allocation from federal and Baluchistan provincial governments as well as contributions from other provincial governments aims to provide food to 1.5 million people and ten million livestock. Eight camps have been established for households that have left home in search of food and water. Government is providing food and medical services to all people in the centers. However, Government policy is encouraging people to stay in their villages so that food is taken to them. A major problem is reaching the affected households as the population is sparsely dispersed. Most of the relief has reached urban and nearby areas but the more distant areas have not been reached. The worst affected are the remote areas, especially along the Afghanistan border. Government resources are only able to meet the food needs of about 15 percent of the affected population. Some NGOs and private parties are also distributing small quantities of food aid and other items. Additional emergency food assistance will be required for the affected population to meet the gap. Government has requested WFP for food assistance.

4.2 Food Aid Strategy and WFP Assistance

Drought has also affected neighbouring countries, particularly Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan, with a high national level of food supply shortages, is worse than in Pakistan. WFP's regional strategy is therefore to provide needed food assistance to Afghans in Afghanistan to limit the pressure of movement of people across the border. One of the logistic lifeline into the most seriously affected areas of Afghanistan is through Baluchistan. Providing food assistance to the affected people in Baluchistan meets a clear humanitarian objective and it also helps the same humanitarian objective to be met for a much larger number of people in Afghanistan, given that food supplies will be transported through an area where the urgent needs of the affected people are also being addressed.

WFP has been working with Government of Pakistan at the federal and provincial levels to establish a Drought Management Team (DMT) supported by a small secretariat to be set up outside normal Government structures. The composition of the team is being finalized. Provisionally it would be located in Quetta chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock and include among its members the Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Natural Resources and Livestock (Federal), Cabinet Secretary (Federal), the Relief Commissioner (Provincial), WFP, FAO, UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, the gender adviser of the UN system, a provincial focal point for Women from the Planning and Development Department, and one or two established NGOs in Baluchistan. The reason for setting up the DMT outside the normal Government structure and with some international donor funding is to enable the group to operate more flexibly than it is possible within the Government structure.

WFP will draw an MOU with the Government to specify areas of operations and the responsibilities involved. Food will be distributed through NGOs. Distribution modalities through NGOs will be on the basis of agreed targeting criteria and will reflect WFP's practice. Food will be handed to women.

This emergency operation will provide the most immediate needs of the affected population while the longer-term food needs are also being considered. It is proposed that a reassessment of the impact of the drought be made in July to determine needs for further assistance. This reassessment should include areas outside the currently worst affected districts as the situation is rapidly changing. That will be the basis for the expansion of the proposed EMOP.

The objectives of WFP assistance will be to

It has been found by the Mission that although cereal availability in the marketing year 2000/01 is about 8 percent less than the requirement at the provincial level, large numbers of people face a food crisis, particularly in the worst affected districts. (See Table 5) These affected people, are in urgent need of food assistance and include mostly nomad and trans humant populations but also many sedentary households.

Table 5: Baluchistan - Drought intensity by district, 1999/2000

Most seriously affected districts
Districts affected moderate to severe drought
Districts not affected by drought
Zhob 1/
Musa Khalil
K. Saifullah
Jhal Magsi
Dera Bugti
1/ The situation in Zhob district has since deteriorated.

The diet of the people of Baluchistan in a normal year includes wheat, milk yoghurt, meat, vegetables and fruit. However, during the drought, the main food is wheat or rice, with little additional items. Often only one meal is cooked. Children are usually given food first and adult women last. Eye infections are high among the children. There is currently no evidence of wasting but it is likely to increase as the crisis situation progresses if there is no adequate intervention. Food assistance is required to avert a looming crisis.

The major target groups of nomad and trans humant populations in distress have been converging as far as possible where there are functioning water points. The affected sedentary households are likely to remain in their villages. The WFP food assistance will be provided to communities in urgent need of such assistance in the worst affected areas. Priority will be given to households that have lost all livestock, female-headed households, households with young children, pregnant and lactating women, and elderly people.

The proposed WFP Emergency Operation is outlined in Table 6

Table 6: WFP Food Assistance to Baluchistan: A six-week Emergency Operation

Percent affected
Number affected
Food aid ( in tonnes)
166 823
100 094
171 361
102 817
202 128
80 851
291 841
116 736
138 977
55 591
262 709
105 084
K. Saifulla
188 729
75 492
276 495
110 598
1 699 063
747 262
16 456

4.3 Food Aid Logistics

In the proposed food assistance operation, WFP will purchase part of the wheat locally as there is adequate production of cereals at the national level. Part of the vegetable oil will be borrowed from the WFP country development stocks and repaid from the emergency operation. Pulses and the remaining vegetable oil will be bought locally.

WFP has discussed with some donors the possibility of borrowing from Government wheat stocks and the subsequent replenishment by imported food aid. This would allow an opportunity for commodity donors to participate in the relief programme. This method, if agreed upon, will be used in future operations.

Food will be provided through OXFAM and other partner NGOs in the eight worst affected districts. WFP will also collaborate with IFRC, which will provide non-food items, as well as with other UN agencies such as UNICEF, WHO and UNDP that provide non-food assistance within the affected areas.

A full ration will be provided to 748 00 beneficiaries. The basic daily ration will be 500g of wheat flour, 30 g of oil and 30g of pulses. This ration will provide about 2 100 Calories. Pulses that cook easily will be provided, as there is little fuel wood available for cooking. Vitamin A fortified oil and iron-fortified wheat flour will be provided to children, pregnant and lactating women.

4.4 Food Aid Monitoring

Monitoring of the overall food security conditions and the relief operations will be undertaken in partnership with the NGO Forum. A monitoring system will be established and a Memorandum of Understanding between WFP and the NGO Forum will be drawn to specify the types of data to be collected, the frequency of collection and reporting mechanism.

Baluchistan is in Security Phase II. Security clearance is required for international staff traveling into Baluchistan. Travel to rural areas for UN international staff is only permitted with armed security escort provided by the Government. Rural Baluchistan is a tribal society, and much of the population is armed. Apart from obvious security considerations, there will be a clear need for this emergency operation to be implemented in a way that takes this reality into account. Working closely with local and tribal authorities therefore assumes even greater importance.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.
Abdur Rashid
Telex 610181 FAO I
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
Ms. J. Cheng-Hopkins
Regional Director, OAC, WFP
Telex: 626675 WFP 1
Fax: 0039-06-6513-2863
E-Mail: Judy.Cheng-Hopkins@WFP.ORG
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