The sorry state of Thar

The sorry state of Thar

There is no doubt, Thar is experiencing myriads of problems currently. Water scarcity, food insecurity, extreme climatic conditions, lack of healthcare facilities, abject poverty, backward education, gender disparity and chronic unemployment are one of the toughest challenges in desert area.

The sorry state of Thar

These pressing problems are not new ones. In fact, they have been taking toll on the lives of Tharis for years. Longstanding issues such as hunger, thirst and malnutrition have undoubtedly made the life in Tharparkar miserable. Depressing fact is that the death toll in Thar has reached 472 this year alone. Besides, almost 80 children and elderly are undergoing treatment in different district hospitals chiefly because of famine, malnutrition, untreated water, viral infections and lack of medical care facilities.

Poor health Facilities

Tharparkar is one of the biggest districts of Sindh based on 7 Talukas and almost 2500 villages. It is also poverty-stricken area where 85 percent people live below poverty line. They hardly make both ends meet. Unfortunately, for such huge number downtrodden villages there are only 280 small dispensaries (hospitals) in Thar that are abysmally less than needed.

This small number of hospitals cannot cater to the needs of such big population. Undeniably, poor people cover miles to reach the hospital for treatment where it is available. But tragic truth is that these hospitals lack trained doctors, sophisticated laboratories, beds for patients and medicine as well. Hence, proper treatment remains a day dream for ailing patients.

Increasing child mortality rate

Alarmingly, Thar has the highest child mortality rate in Pakistan. Approximately, 110 children lose their life per thousand annually. Keeping in view population growth rate in Thar stands at 3 percent with 30000 child births per year. It is evident from the fact that 3300 deaths occur each year with the average of one hundred ten deaths per thousand births. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in a recent report released that “Pakistan is the riskiest place to be born as measured by its newborn mortality rate. A baby born in Pakistan is almost 50 times more likely to die during his or her first month than a baby born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore.”

Contaminated water

Untreated water is a serious problem in Thar. People are completely deprived of clean drinking water facility. According to news report: Government has installed 480 RO plants but more than half from them have become completely non-functional and some have been closed due to loopholes in budget utilization. Harsh reality is that people drink water from old dug wells which are totally contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

According to Development Sector Organization report: “water sample that was taken from desert region for test, contained 6 to 7 thousand TCC which are considered chief cause behind this rising number of deaths.”
The population of Thar is up to 1.6 million which mostly comprises of poor Hindu community.

Agricultural decline

Approximately, 40 percent people of Thar’s total population rely on agriculture and livestock and rainfall. Agricultural sector and cattle are their lifeline and major source of livelihood. Whereas, low rainfall in the desert area over two years has posed drought like-situation. It has ultimately lead to severe water, food and fodder shortage. In addition, agricultural yields, crops’ productivity and livestock have also suffered massive losses. Due to such alarming situation of drought inhabitants have started migrating to water bounty areas for survival.

Neglected education

Thar is also at the back burner regarding education. According to Alf Ailan (An Organization working on education in Pakistan); literacy rate in Thar is nearly 17 percent and female literacy rate is below 7 percent. Besides, ghost teachers, poor infrastructure, absence of basic facilities, low budget allocation, outdated curriculum and low literacy rate portray the bleak picture of education system in Thar.

A news report suggests that “there are around 4000 schools in Thar from which more than 30 percent are close, 70 percent schools don’t have basic amenities such as drinking water, electricity, furniture, toilets and boundary walls and 50 percent schools have the shortage of teachers.”

Likewise, it is painful that there is no university in Thar, even no campus of any institution. Therefore, poor parents cannot send their children for higher education to remote areas because exorbitant house rents, admissions fees and expensive fare are beyond their reach. Consequently, intellectual and potential students of Thar cannot come forward to showcase their hidden talents.

Gender discrimination

Gender discrimination is also an endemic issue in Thar. Women have no say in socio-economic decision making and family planning despite the fact that they burn midnight oil to feed entire family. Women work in fields from dawn to dusk, care for their children, do domestic work and what not. Despite that they are not treated with equal honor and esteem. They face grave issues like domestic violence, sexual harassment, ill-treatment and much more on regular basis. Forced child marriages are also common in Thar. Due to such societal practices and pressures women often take their life by committing suicides.


Unemployment rate in Tharparkar is also on the rise. It is witnessing chronic unemployment rate at above 80 percent. There is no industry or source of employment through which people can get suitable jobs and earn livelihood.


These problems are afflicting Thar for many years. Therefore, it is high time for federal and provincial government to devise effective policies for fixing these pressing problems. They should make urgent efforts in order to bring proper functioning in hospitals through trained staff, modern equipment of treatment and quality medicines for saving precious lives.

Furthermore, ensuring peoples’ access to potable water will go long way towards controlling bourgeoning deaths in Thar. Hence, Tharis must be provided with pure drinking water as it will control the spread of deadly diseases. In addition, water crisis is aggravating the situation in Thar with each passing day. Efficient water conservation, storage and management agendas must be introduced to avoid devastating droughts and economic losses.

More importantly, education alone will help them steer themselves out of issues primarily poverty and unemployment. So education needs to be revamped through improved infrastructure and presence of basic facilities. Likewise, women play pivotal role in the uplift of family, society and nation. They should be given due rights including education, health, freedom of speech, right to property and be empowered to take part in decision making process.

Moreover, Thar has the largest coal deposits in Pakistan. There are total 186 tones of coal in the country from which 175 tones are available in desert region. Therefore, there is dire need to utilize such a huge treasure in an efficient manner for the welfare of Tharis. Above all, modern industries should be installed in Thar so that poor and common people can get a job and generate income to ease their real sufferings in the time to come.

The writer is freelance columnist, an undergraduate student of Economics at University of Sindh, Jamshoro and aspirant to CSS, based in Dadu, Sindh. He can be reached at

By Assad Ali Lund

Freelance columnist, student of economics at University of Sindh, Jamshoro and CSS aspirant.