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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Severe drought in southern Pakistan
map of southern Pakistan
Southern Pakistan is stricken by drought

By Haroon Rashid in Quetta

A severe drought has blighted agriculture in Pakistan's southern provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh, where many people now face the threat of famine.

Experts working for the international relief organisation Oxfam warned that some areas were not far from facing a disaster on the scale of the famine in Ethiopia.

Oxfam experts visited three drought-hit districts in Baluchistan and Thraparkar in Sindh.
view of Baluchistan
Baluchistan is one of the hottest places on earth

They said 90% of the livestock and local agriculture were affected and, while there had been no drought-related deaths as yet, they expected a further deterioration soon.

Oxfam carried out a detailed survey of the drought-affected areas, and reported an alarming situation.

The experts found that in Sindh, nearly 60% of the population had already migrated to irrigated land.

Aid appeal

Tanya Boudreau, an Oxfam food security specialist, said a swathe stretching from southern Afghanistan to Pakistan and Gujarat in India had been badly affected by lack of rainfall.

The team is also to visit the Cholistan desert in Sindh.

Cattle-breeding - a key source of income for the local inhabitants - has been seriously hit by the dried-up pastures.

Ms Boudreau called for immediate action to prevent a disaster.

The team is to submit its report by the end of the month to the Pakistan government and donors, to launch a relief programme.

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02 Dec 99 | South Asia
Pakistan's parched province
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