Superstorm Kyarr causes flooding, panic in Pakistan’s coastal villages

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Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)
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Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)
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Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)
Updated 29 October 2019

Superstorm Kyarr causes flooding, panic in Pakistan’s coastal villages

  • Over a hundred villages in Karachi’s coastal areas are threatened by sea erosion
  • Meteorologists say the country is not under ‘direct threat’ by Cyclone Kyarr

KARACHI: Sughra Haroon, who lives in a small hamlet near the Arabian Sea, woke up in the middle of the night, Sunday, and found that her family was surrounded by ascending water. She got hold of her children and spent the rest of the night under the sky at a distant location from her cottage near the seashore.
Haroon’s home in Rehri is among hundreds of villages where water entered people’s homes on Sunday night, after cyclonic superstorm Kyarr affected Karachi’s coastal belt in southern Pakistan, forcing inhabitants, predominantly fisherfolk, to stay awake and alert through the night.
“I was born in this house, and I became a grandmother while living under this roof,” Haroon told Arab News. “It’s not that I haven’t seen tidal waves from the shore, but the water never sneaked up on me before. It was frightening.”
“The water may have receded,” she said on Monday afternoon while pointing to the grimy floor of her hut in Rehri. “But they say its level will be much higher tonight.”




Seawater flooded a home in Chashma Goth, Karachi, due to Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

The Pakistan Meteorological Department said in a statement on Monday: “The Super Storm Kyarr is likely to move further northwest toward Oman coast during the next few days. Currently, none of the Pakistan coastal area is under direct threat from this system. However, under its influence scattered DS/TS-rain is expected in lower Sindh and along Makran Coast during Wednesday-Friday. Fishermen are advised not to venture in deep sea from today.”




Sughra Haroon checks her belongings after the seawater receded Monday afternoon in Rehri Goth, Karachi. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

Some fishermen said that though the sea had always fed their families, it was becoming more dangerous every year for their settlements due to the effects of sea erosion and climate change.
“I was born in this village,” said Shafi Muhammad, 55, a fisherman at Chashma Goth. “When there were high tides, the water soaked us up in this neighborhood, but it never rolled into our houses like this before.”
“With each passing year,” he added, “the sea level is gradually rising.”




Women sit at a bench as water engulfed their house in Chashma Goth, Karachi, due to a cyclone in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

As seawater breached the coastline across the southern edge of the country, many activists, who have been concerned about sea erosion, said the government was not doing enough to prevent these settlements from vanishing underwater.
“Even a slight effect of a storm can submerge these communities,” said Zuhaib Ahmed Pirzada, who was part of the Restore Water Movement, a rally that was taken out in July this year to release enough river water into the sea.
“Despite the fact that the sea intrusion has engulfed 2.5 million acres of land in Thatta, Badin and Sujawal districts, the authorities are paying no heed,” he said.




Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

Since the authorities did not release adequate fresh water downstream from Kotri Barrage, Pirzada added, not enough silt was going into the Indus River Delta which, consequently, was putting coastal settlements at risk of being overrun by seawater.
Sea erosion had already drowned 28 out of 42 such parishes in Kharo Chan Taulka, he noted. “The situation has also been aggravated by climate crisis,” Pirzada said.




Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

The Indus River Delta has 17 creeks which enter into the Arabian Sea with 15 of them in Thatta, Sujawal and Badin. Before Pakistan came into being, Pirzada noted, 90 million acre-feet (MAF) of water was released from Kotri Barrage to the delta. In 2018, this figure decreased to 1.7 MAF.
“Releasing water is the domain of the federal government. All we can do is rehabilite and provide relief to the people. It’s true that these villages will vanish due to climate change. If sea erosion cannot be stopped, the fishermen will have to leave, but they say they cannot do that since they are living here for centuries,” Pakistan People’s Party lawmaker, Agha Rafi Ullah, told Arab News.




Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

Meanwhile, fisherman Shafi Muhammad said he had spotted a place atop a nearby mound as a safe place for his children.
“Let’s see how things unfold,” he said. “We have no hopes from the authorities.”


Pakistani skin and haircare brands bet on organic ingredients and traditional recipes

Updated 39 min 57 sec ago

Pakistani skin and haircare brands bet on organic ingredients and traditional recipes

  • A growing number of companies are addressing hair and skin concerns using products available in the average South Asian pantry
  • Notable companies include Zo’Nanos, Calm & Balm, Aura and Conatural

RAWALPINDI: When Zoha Naqvi was living in the United Kingdom as a university student, she said she was consistently bothered by the ‘Asian-ification’ of Western skin and haircare brands.
In 2017, just months after returning to Pakistan, Naqvi launched Zo’Nanos, a Karachi-based haircare company whose unique selling point is creating oils using recipes passed down in Naqvi’s mother’s family over generations.

The name Zo’Nano combines founder Zoha Naqvi’s first name with ‘nano,’ the Urdu word for grandmother. In this photo, Zoha Naqvi poses with bottles of her grandmother’s hair oil in Karachi, Pakistan on May, 16 2020. (Zonanos)

“It would bother me that our recipes ... were being Westernized and sold at places like Lush,” Naqvi told Arab News over the phone, referring to the UK cosmetics maker and retailer. “They were capitalizing on desi totkas by giving them palatable repackaging.”
“Totkas” are concocted at-home methods or recipes for addressing hair, skin, and sometimes even health problems using products available in the average South Asian pantry, explained Naqvi, who launched Zo’Nanos “to find a way to celebrate the culture and the knowledge that we hold as South Asians.” 
“Our totkas with a modern twist,” is how she described her company, adding: “We were able to communicate with our audience that we are a modern brand but one that is rooted in being Pakistani, recognizable and familiar.”
Indeed, Zo’Nanos is just one among a growing number of Pakistani brands who are betting on locally produced ingredients and traditional techniques to make their mark. 
“It is the backbone of any company these days,” said Rema Taseer, the co-founder of organic beauty and wellness brand Conatural, talking about the use of traditional methods and organic ingredients in skin and haircare. “We use it to interact and start a relationship with our customers.”
“There was a lack of trust in local products,” Taseer said. “There weren’t proper, natural, and all-certified organic companies in Pakistan providing beauty solutions; they were all chemical-based. It felt important to create one ourselves.” 
Taseer, and her partner Myra Qureshi Jahangir, say they also wanted to use their brand to fight the obsession South Asians, and Pakistanis in particular, have with fair skin. 
Skin lightening cosmetics have a huge market in South Asia, but their promotion is being questioned, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. 
“The beauty business here is full of whitening creams. I felt someone actually had to voice against that and state that there is beauty beyond color ... we wanted to be the first ones to step up,” Taseer said. 
According to a study conducted by Zion Market Research, the whitening cream industry was valued at over $4 billion in 2017 and estimated to cross $9 billion by 2024.
“I highly discourage fairness products and will never make anything related to fairness,” said Bakhtawar Rehman, who co-founded Calm & Balm, a sustainable and organic beauty line, with her husband in 2019.
Since she was a child, Rehman said she had been mixing oils and creating ‘do it yourself’ beauty treatments using organic ingredients, which had led her to perfect the recipes she now uses for Calm & Balm products, which are certified organic and promote environmental sustainability.
But in a market like Pakistan, maintaining global standards for nature beauty products has proved difficult. 
“Local vendors have certain working methodologies that are not easy to change so you have to work and communicate with them the way they want while meeting your demand,” Rehman said. 
Fatima Khan, founder and owner of natural skin company Aura, concurred. 

In 2012, Aura founder Fatima Khan’s parents began experimenting with homemade beauty and skim remedies, leading to the birth of Aura the brand. Khan restocks shelves of Aura products in Lahore, Pakistan on February, 12, 2018. (Aura)

“There are no standards on quality for materials in place, there’s a lack of facilities and certifications, it is close to impossible to do all things here in Pakistan, though we strive to do so in every avenue we can,” Khan told Arab News via email. “We need to work extra hard to support and develop our own industry.”
But despite the challenges, the industry is still growing, she said. 
“When we first entered the natural skincare industry, we barely had competition,” Khan said. “Now there’s a new organic skincare brand launching every month.”