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'Muhnjo Sohno Thar': Promoting Resilience via a Transformational, System-Based Approach

We envision a future in which the Thari indigenous people build a more resilient, sustainable food system that enables them to thrive.

Photo of Asher Hasan
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Naya Jeevan ('new life'): Naya Jeevan is an awardee of the 2013 Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Challenge

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Telenor & Easypaisa (Digital Payments, mobile technology & 3G/4G wifi connectivity), Samsung (tablets), TPL (crop & livestock insurance), GSMA (impact evaluation), Sukaar Foundation (local, community-based organisation), Unilever (supply chain, distribution system), doctHERs (tele-veterinary care and telemedicine), Friesland Campina (dairy supply chain), GSK, Sanofi and Merck (Vaccines - human and animal); Engro (agri-inputs: seeds, fertiliser), Thar District Government (local coordination of Sind Government Nutrition program).

Website of Legally Registered Entity

http://www.naya-jeevan.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Karachi

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Pakistan

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

19638 km^2 (https://www.google.com/search?q=rtharparkar+geographic+area&rlz=1C5CHFA_enPK851PK851&oq=rtharparkar+geographic+area&aqs=chrome)

What country is your selected Place located in?

Pakistan

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

We selected Tharparkar (an arid region between Pakistan and India) as it has been severely affected by climate-change induced droughts over the past 8 years. The changing environmental conditions have adversely impacted the food system in this area - decimating crops, poultry and small livestock which are the major source of income in this region.    

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

According to HistoryPak.com ( https://historypak.com/tharparkar-the-heart-of-thar-desert/ ): "Tharparkar is a district that occurs in the south east of Sindh (Pakistan). It happens to be one of the 23 districts of the Sindh Province. More than 90% of the 1.7 million Thari people live in more than 200 rural villages. The headquarters of Thar is known as Mithi. A very large area of Tharparkar consists of the Thar Desert. The ‘Thari’ Language is basically a rajistani language and is the most spoken language in the region. Some people also speak urdu and sindhi. Tharparkar has the largest population of Hindus in Pakistan (~700,000 people) who are otherwise a minority in Pakistan.  The Thari culture is a mixture of the Gujrati, Rajistani and Sindhi Culture. Thari’s are very honest and hardworking people and are very hospitable. More than 80% of people subsist on rain-fed agriculture and small livestock (sheeps and goats)."

A poverty index report by UNDP indicates that 87% of the population live in poverty (). Tharparkar has the lowest Human Development Index in Sind and the highest infant mortality rate in Pakistan with 1500 children dying in the district each year.


Guar (a bean), Singhri, kumbhi, pipoon and chhahiyaan (small melons) are the most popular crops grown in Tharparkar while 50% of the households raise small livestock as their primary source of livelihood, via sales of dairy and meat to intermediaries who supply towns and cities in Sind. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

19638

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

1700000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.


Current Challenges (2020)

Environment:  Climate-change induced drought since 2001 has led to the mortality of ~25% of the small livestock in Tharparkar and to the widespread decimation of crops

Nutrition/Diets: The significant mortality and morbidity in small livestock has impacted the nutrient content of diet along with access to fewer fresh vegetables/fruits due to lower incomes. This has led to a higher dependence on nutritionally-depleted processed foods and micronutrient deficiencies among children (especially Vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C)

Economics: The quality of life has deteriorated by ~50% since 2005. The average monthly income of a Thari household is ~$60 per month (~$2/day).

Culture:  The adverse impact of climate-change on the local economy has led to predatory behaviour by feudal landowners and a higher incidence of human trafficking - especially of Thari women who belong to the Hindu minority. The psychological effect of this trafficking has led to a reduction in the participation of women in public life, especially in agriculture and livestock farming where women are susceptible to being abducted in farm fields by landowners, etc.  This exclusion of women from the public sphere has dampened the once-vibrant and colourful, Thari indigenous culture. 

Technology: Most union councils lack access to 3G/4G connectivity. This means that local farmers are often disconnected from urban markets and are exploited by intermediaries due to their market information asymmetry. 

Policy: There have been improvements in infrastructure (e.g. road linkages) over the past decade but public education, health and nutritional programs remain hugely under-resourced. 


CURRENT CHALLENGES (2050)

Environment:  Relative water scarcity will continue to be an environmental challenge. 

Nutrition/Diets:  The produce is not completely 'organic' and will have been treated by growth hormones, fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides. Therefore, the nutrient density of foods will continue to be a challenge. 

Economics: A double-edged sword to this economic growth is that a significant amount of coal will have been mined from underneath Thar and these mining activities will have led to significant numbers of displaced Tharis.  

Culture:  The 'neutering' effects of 'globalisation' will also be felt in Thar with a large swathe of the youth population migrating to urban megacities such as Karachi.  

Technology:  The widespread availability of coal will dilute the impact of clean-technology.    

Policy:  Policymakers (local landowners) keep the indigenous population illiterate

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.


CHALLENGES ADDRESSED (in 2020)

Environment:  Weather-indexed, mobile-enabled Crop Insurance & Livestock Insurance will be launched in Tharparkar to help mitigate the short-term effects of climate-change induced drought. 

Nutrition/Diets:  Local Thari people will participate in community-centered initiatives that help to co-create balanced diets with real-time input/feedback from remotely located nutritionists who are linked to these communities via HD video-consultation (or via phone consultation if 4G connectivity is unavailable). 

Economics: The federal government will promote investment in local SMEs as a policy tool to help revive local economies.  

Culture:   The reintegration of women into the workforce will have a rejuvenating impact on the culture of the indigenous people where women have always played a pivotal role in hosting cultural events, etc. 

Technology: 9-G connectivity will be widely available throughout Thar. This will allow tech-enabled ventures such as tele-veterinary care and telemedicine companies to be large employers of local Thari women.  

Policy: Naya Jeevan has engaged the district government to help fully integrate the provincial nutrition program into this multi-stakeholder effort. The nutrition program takes a systems-level approach to improving the overall nutritional status of Tharis.  


CHALLENGES ADDRESSED (by 2050)

Nutrition/Diets:  The growth of local fruits and vegetables by SMEs owned by Thari indigenous people will enable Thari people to retain the bulk of the profits generated from the sale of produce and help sustain the local economy. The use of fortified flour and other fortified foods will be commonplace.    

Economics: the local economy will be far more integrated with the national economy in Pakistan in addition to the high-volume, cross-border trade with India which will have become Pakistan's largest trading partner by 2050. 

Culture:   the Thari culture will be celebrated in the mainstream via tourism, media and cultural events/festivals. It will become commonplace to celebrate religious festivals such as holi and diwaali across the region. 



High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The resilience of the Thari people will have been greatly augmented by 2050, i.e. their increased ability and capacity to cope with ongoing climate-change crisis via: (i) universal asset protection of income-generating assets (e.g. via livestock insurance), (ii) income generation via women's entrepreneurship and (iii) socioeconomic inclusion of women into the economy as full economic citizens

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

'Muhnjo Sohno Thar' (My Beautiful Thar) is a multi-stakeholder collaboration that is focused on using a mobile technology-enabled, system-transforming approach to achieve our vision of a resilient, indigenous people who can transcend the effects of climate-change induced drought. 

Our multi-stakeholder vision addresses the six interconnected themes in the following way:  

Environment:  Weather-indexed, mobile-enabled Crop Insurance & Livestock Insurance have been mainstreamed in Tharparkar with ultra-low income Tharis supported by the district and provincial government agri-value insurance programs and low-middle income Tharis protecting their animals under private sector insurance schemes. 

Nutrition/Diets:  (i) Local Thari people will continue to iterate and improve on community-centered initiatives that help to co-create balanced diets with real-time input/feedback from remotely located nutritionists who are linked to these communities via HD video-consultation (or via phone consultation if 4G connectivity is unavailable). Female frontline health workers will serve to intermediate between the local communities as most health workers are bilingual or trilingual and are able to translate in case of poor language comprehension. (ii) The growth of local fruits and vegetables by SMEs owned by Thari indigenous people will enable Thari people to retain the bulk of the profits generated from the sale of produce and help sustain the local economy. The use of fortified flour and other fortified foods will be commonplace.    

Economics: the local economy of Tharparkar will be far more integrated with the national economy in Pakistan, promoting cheaper access to fruits and vegetables grown i Punjab, in addition to the high-volume, cross-border trade with India which will have become Pakistan's largest trading partner by 2050. 

Culture:   Social media campaigns over the intervening years will have been co-created by Tharis and feature indigenous people speaking about their achievements in helping to build a more robust, sustainable local food system, while also highlighting the issue of human trafficking and its adverse impact on the food system in Tharparkar (back in 2020, fewer families were willing to send their women into the fields because they were scared they would be abducted by feudal landowners and trafficked).  The reintegration of women into the workforce will have a rejuvenating impact on the culture of the indigenous people where women have always played a pivotal role in hosting cultural events, etc. the Thari culture will be far better known and celebrated across mainstream Pakistan via eco-tourism, media coverage and cultural events/festivals. It will become commonplace for people of Tharparkar (Pakistan) and Rajasthan (India) to celebrate religious festivals such as Eid, holi and diwaali together. What an inspiration that would be!

Technology: 9-G connectivity will be widely available throughout Thar. This will allow tech-enabled ventures such as doctHERs (a digital health company) to be large employers of local Thari women with a special focus on tele-veterinary care of animal livestock. With the backing of the government co-financed, Universal Services Fund (USF), Telenor will have connected the district to the rest of the country in 2030.

Policy:  access to basic services such as education and health will have improved greatly as a result of the programs being been co-created and designed with the input of the local Thari communities.  With the help of frontline health workers residing within their communities Tharis will be far more sensitised to the public health benefits of consuming a balanced diet. 


How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Photo of Trupti Jain
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Hi Asher:
Good afternoon from India. Nice submission. will love to learn if your farmers are facing water shortage in summer and winter? Are they having their rainy period crops disturbed due to water logging or flood in monsoon period? If yes then we will love to help you. For last 30 years we are working in this subject. we are helping our smallholders with our World Bank, UNFCCC, Securing Water for Food (USAID) and Millennium Alliance (DFID) awarded innovation BHUNGROO which saves farmers from drought and flood, doubles farmers income and improves soil fertility. Will love to give you our innovation BHUNGROO. It will be our poor farmers' gift for your farmers. We can guarantee the result within 1 year. we are currently helping more than 100000 farming families across India, SEAsia, EAsia & Africa. We have also designed Youth Climate Leaders and Women Climate leaders. I am sure both will add strength to your program. pl feel free to contact us. our detail is as follow
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