Pakistan Government Hires Unemployed to Plant Trees Amid COVID-19 Lockdown
Coronavirus has put tens of thousands of people out of work in Pakistan. However, an ambitious tree-planting program kicked off by the government of Pakistan in 2018 to combat changing climate is employing thousands to plant trees, mostly who lost their jobs amidst coronavirus pandemic.
As soon as a lockdown was ordered in the country in March due to the global health crisis, many lost their jobs. However, the Pakistani government began hiring labourers to plant saplings as part of its 10 Billion Trees program.
Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan has a long history of promoting environmental regeneration. In 2017, he launched an initiative to plant 1 billion trees in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which achieved its goal ahead of schedule.
Pakistan has been witnessing the effects of climate change through heat waves and droughts. To tackle this problem, Imran Khan had launched the 10 Billion Trees program across the country to be finished within five years.
Almost 38% of the global workforce are at high risk of unemployment due to #COVID19 pandemic. Green jobs provide a win-win solution: they allow to invest in #nature while providing livelihood for people affected by economic downturn #GreenRecovery pic.twitter.com/ajaPomNiB4
— UN Convention to Combat Desertification (@UNCCD) May 14, 2020
The program was stopped with the initiation of the lockdown, but last month, the Prime Minister allowed the project to continue, which ultimately created over 60,000 jobs.
All of us now have a way of earning daily wages again to feed our families. Due to coronavirus, all the cities have shut down and there is no work. Most of us daily wagers couldn’t earn a living.
Said Abdul Rahman, a construction worker who lost his job due to COVID-19 and now works in the program.
Rehman revealed that he now makes 500 Pakistani Rupees (~$3) a day planting trees, which is about half of what he might have made previously.
Much of the plantation drive is taking place near the state capital of Islamabad on a land piece of 15,000 acres, with emphasis on hiring women and young unemployed daily workers. The job description entitles the labourers to plant saplings, serve as forest firefighters and set up nurseries.
Although the work is taking place in secluded rural areas, labourers are needed to follow the social distancing rules and have to wear masks.
According to the Global Climate risk Index annual report for 2020, Pakistan is fifth on the list of countries most susceptible to climate. Pakistan is amongst the nations that are repeatedly affected by natural calamities and unceasingly rank midst the most affected countries both in the long-term index and in the index for the individual year.
A recent assessment by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics found that, due to the lockdown, up to 19 million people could be laid off, almost 70 perfect of them in the Punjab province.
As per the World Wildlife Fund, Pakistan is a “forest poor” country where tree cover is less than 6 percent of the total area.
Apparently, the country needs a stringent strategy to avert the climate crisis. Although Pakistan’s 10 Billion Trees program does seem a bit ambitious, it is certainly the right way to go on about the restoration of the planet’s health.
Via: The Hill