Sustainable Development Success Stories

Combating Desertification Through Stakeholders Participation,
With The Construction Of A Delay Action Check Dam At Khar – Gadap, Malir


The project area, Khar (about 10 km North of Gadap Town). Gadap is the Union Council of District Malir, Karachi Division, Sindh Province, Pakistan.

Responsible Organization

Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) was the key organisation that led and implemented the project, with the help of Kissan Committee, a local community based organisation.


Malir valley stretches over a vast area from Kirthar Mountain in Balochistan dry region in its north. There dwell one million people in 4,000 small villages and towns. Malir river and its tributaries named as Konkar, Mol, Khadegi and Thaddo, run through the entire Malir valley but after seasonal rains. A good number of hill-torrents also pass through the central Malir valley. Khar River is one of these hill-torrents, which passes through Konkar and Gadap Union Council with tremendous run off after torrential rains.

Historically, Malir valley was once known for its richness in arable land and water resources. There were 30 wells dug by the Karachi Municipal Board at Dumloti in Malir to supply potable water to Karachi. Later on, the condition altered altogether with the supply of water from Kinjhar Lake to Karachi. Malir’s soil rapidly eroded due to:

  • Excessive sand and gravel excavation from Malir River bed to feed construction raw material market: the water table has gone down from 60-70 (in the 1960s) to 300-700 ft.

  • Influx of migrants from within and outside of country and tremendous increase in population

  • Excessive water extraction from groundwater aquifer

  • Regular and prolonged drought spell

  • Urbanization of rural Malir particularly its southern region

Since 1988 the Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) has been focusing on the rehabilitation of Malir valley. SCOPE has been striving hard for the restoration of greenbelt of Malir valley. With the technical guidance of the researchers of Geography Department of Karachi University, arranged to conduct a research study, which focused on social, economical, ecological and physical impacts of sand and gravel excavation by comparing excavated areas with non-mining areas. The study revealed that Malir is rapidly turning into non-productive due to soil loss and lack of ground water.

SCOPE organized local people to stop sand and gravel excavation from the area; while the Government imposed strict ban on sand and gravel mining from specified area of Malir riverbed. Strict vigilance has now extended to stop sand and gravel mining from the riverbed and from green belt of Malir valley.

To conserve small available quantities of water, SCOPE constructed a water reservoir in 1995 to store rainwater for domestic and animal drinking purposes, at Haji Noor Mohammad Village. It introduced sprinkling irrigation system by providing two mobile sprinkler units to economize irrigation water at two different farms in Gadap Union Council.

Facing acute shortage of water, the farmers and pastoralist of Khar valley, through their organization "Kisan Committee Gadap" pressured the local government to build a check dam at Khar, which would increase the ground water table. Though the District Council, Karachi accepted the demand of the people, yet due to shortage of resources, it kept the project pending. The farming community of the area was getting frustrated day by day.

SCOPE, committed to rehabilitate the degraded lands, decided to take up the project on a participatory basis and initiated motivational work. It held several meetings with the groups of farmers and pastoralist and members of Kisan Committee and motivated them to build the desired check dam on self-help basis. A large number of farmers gathered at Gadap on March 14, 1999 and agreed to construct the dam on self-help basis. They started collection of donation for the purpose. On the request to SCOPE, the Baanhan Beli- another NGO working on the development of Thar Desert, spread the services of an irrigation engineer for surveying the site, who gave advice for the construction of a dam.

Issues Addressed Land resources management, Sustainable agriculture, Capacity building

Results Achieved

Unfortunately the current season also proved to be dry. However, a small rain on October 6, 1999 filled the dam and it stored a good amount of rainwater covering (200x15x800) 2.4 million cubic ft area. The stored water is now percolating in the aquifer and few wells near the dam are experiencing increases in water table.

Lessons Learned

  • Community organisation is a difficult task, when we deal with different stakeholders having different interests.

  • Community is a heterogeneous entity, having more concerned people with less interest and less concerned people with more interests. It is difficult for the community to arrange all the resources, for this external resource input is essential.

  • Local knowledge must be respected while planning a project, however, options should be open for improvement.

  • Conflict of interests should be handled carefully, while negotiating a project among different stakeholders and NGOs can play this role with a better position.

  • Government support is difficult to mobilize for community development projects.


Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE)
B-156, 13-D/2, Gulshan-e-Iqbal
Karachi –75300, Pakistan
Tel. (+92) 21 4965042, (+92) 21 4983912; Fax (+92) 21 4976459
Email: scope@khi.compol.com