The Fact File
The world shouldn’t decide what Afghanistan needs 04 March 2014
Environmental degradation is usually associated with mindless development and uncontrolled consumerism. But Prince Mostapha Zeher, director-general of Afghanistan’s national Environmental Protection Agency, gives a said glimpse of the environmental stress that war inflicted on the proud mountains of his homeland. Excerpts from an interview:
Climate change and Afghanistan-one does not usually associate the two.
Some say climate change is a fabrication to grab money. I challenge all those to come and see the ravages. The Pamirs and the Hindu Kush are in peril. The glaciers recede further each summer. We began seeing these changes in the 1960s and maintained meticulous records till 1989. There was an interruption till 2012. Now, we again have records, and they show the changes.
Please elaborate on the impact on the local people.
With glaciers receding, there is greater interaction between wild yaks and mountain sheep and livestock, because of which the latter are susceptible to disease. Snow leopards follow wild grazers to lower slopes and make away with livestock.
How did war aggravate matters?
During 35 years of civil war, environment preservation was not on any agenda. Nature, too, decided to be particularly harsh and there were constant droughts between 1996 and 2002. Once, 5 per cent of Afghanistan was forested, today only 2 per cent is. We had 72 varieties of grape. Neglect, cordite and uranium has left only eight varieties. Of the 105 varieties of citrus fruits, only 18 are available. The crimson red of pomegranates has faded to a pale pink. There is urban stress with local migrations.
What is the solution?
Afghanistan needs to decide for itself what is needs. When the world decided what Afghan people needed, it led to disaster, we cannot repeat that mistake.
What is the most important requirement for Afghanistan in rebuilding its ecology?
Building public awareness. For this we need departments of environmental studies in universities. TERI (India) played an important role in Kabul University, next are Heart and Jalalabad. We have great expectations from India as it has kept all its pledges towards us. Nineteen
Adopted from ‘THE WEEK’ dated 23 Feb 2014
Comment:- Environment and development and rival to each other. We are faced with a very big challenge; progress and development are getting derailed. Exploding population is a serious threat. Are we really serious?