Fodder dries up for Pakistani livestock as flood waters remain high
Farmers stranded by unprecedented floods that have submerged huge swaths of Pakistan are running out of food for their livestock, officials said on Tuesday, as airdropping supplies has proven a difficult task.
Flooding from record monsoon rains and melting ice in the northern mountains has affected 33 million people and killed nearly 1,400 people, washing away homes, transport, crops and livestock with damage estimated at $30 billion . In the southern province of Sindh, one of the hardest hit areas, farmers in several villages have braved rising waters to stay and try to keep their remaining livestock alive.
“A shortage of livestock fodder has emerged,” said Syed Murtaza Ali Shah, the top government official in the key provincial district of Dadu, adding that army and navy helicopters were trying to reach the farmers. However, airdropping supplies would be difficult, said a military official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
“It’s a serious problem,” the army official told Reuters. “Airdrops wouldn’t work, but it’s important that fodder is provided to cattle.” The situation is expected to worsen as weather officials have warned of more rain in the coming days, posing a new threat to thousands of displaced people living in tents or in the open along highways.
Authorities estimate that around 700,000 head of cattle have been lost in the floods nationwide, and the rest, which are a vital asset in a poor country, are depleting due to lack of food. The government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have blamed climate change for causing the extreme weather conditions that caused flooding in the South Asian nation of 220 million people.
UN agencies are assessing Pakistan’s reconstruction needs after receiving 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, nearly 190 percent more than the 30-year average, in July and August. Sindh received 466% more rain than average and all the floodwaters flow through Dadu, which has a population of 1.5 million.
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