The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ a project started by the PTI government has received appreciation from the national, international community and media organizations. As it has provided jobs to thousands of labourers and daily wage workers amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
Millions of daily wagers in Pakistan lost their jobs and were greatly affected after Pakistan imposed lockdown in the country on March 23 to curb the spread of COVID-19 but the PTI government in an effort to avoid large scale unemployment among daily wagers started Billion Tree Tsunami and thousands of labourers have been given new jobs as “jungle workers”, planting saplings as part of the country’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami programme.
According to the available data, about 66,291 workers are employed in Billion Tree Tsunami project. KPK Forest Department alone has provided approximately 22,000 jobs to unemployed workers in forest nurseries, enclosures and Afforestation programme. The labourers are receiving PKR 15,000 monthly which might not be a large amount but is still sufficient to support a poor family.
Besides, helping the poor class of the country amid covid-19 lockdown, the Billion Tree Tsunami is also playing an effective role in fighting the climate change war.
The Global Climate Risk Index 2020, issued by think tank Germanwatch, ranked Pakistan fifth on a list of countries most affected by planetary heating over the last two decades – even though the South Asian nation contributes only a fraction of global greenhouse gases.
According to Germanwatch, Pakistan reported more than 150 extreme weather events between 1999 and 2018 – from floods to heat waves with total losses of $3.8 billion to the economy.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has also praised Pakistan for tackling the global pandemic with positivity and has appreciated the initiative which is not only helping in controlling emission of carbon but also providing much needed jobs to the poor during lockdown.
While talking to us on phone, a labourer Muhammad Ibrar working on Tsunami Project in Malakand division said that he had lost job due to Covid-19 and had nothing to do but beg; adding that the Billion Tree Project saved his dignity as it has provided him with an easy and reasonable job of planting trees while earning much needed money to support his family.
Pakistan is a “forest poor” country where trees cover less than 6% of the total area. This project will help Pakistan in many ways including reducing unemployment, minimizing the threats of climate change and heat waves.
The aim of the project launched in 2018 by Imran Khan, was to counter the rising temperatures, flooding, droughts and other extreme weather in the country that scientists link to climate change; but after the Covid19 outbreak the government intelligently utilized the project as a way to reduce unemployment amid outbreak of coronavirus and provided jobs to thousands of masses.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier approved ‘Green Stimulus’ package as part of the government’s efforts to extend green cover in the county and to create job opportunities for the youth, particularly in the wake of coronavirus crisis.
The Green Stimulus package, as part of 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project, aims to promote plantation, setting up nurseries, natural forests and promotion of honey, fruit and olive plantation in the country.
Under the package, a ‘Green Nigehabaan’ initiative would also be launched to provide job opportunities to 65,000 youth/daily-wage earners in the first phase, making them a part of the plantation campaign.
Addressing the issues related to climate change, the prime minister had said enhancing green cover of the country is among the foremost priorities of the government.
Prime Minister Imran Khan in his latest tweet referring to this project stated as “Killing two birds with one stone”.