By Daanyal Raja
To combat the coronavirus, several countries have issued lockdown orders. Unfortunately, these orders have negatively impacted millions of families by leaving them with no source of income and by wrecking the economy, making it difficult to find a job. For example, Pakistan, a nation that has had its economy grind to a halt because of the virus, projects that up to 19 million people in the workforce could lose their jobs. However, the nation has decided to employ those without jobs in positions as tree planters in order to combat climate change.
Pakistan is one of the countries that is heavily impacted by climate change. The country was recently ranked fifth most affected country by climate heating over the last 20 years by the Global Climate Risk index, although it doesn’t have substantially high greenhouse gas emissions. The country has vast amounts of pollution and faces rising temperatures, droughts, and flooding every year, making its green stimulus plan a much-needed one. The plan was first introduced by Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2018 and will last 5 years. The monumental effort gives unemployed workers new jobs as “jungle workers” who will plant billions of trees across the country in order to better prepare the nation for the changes that it faces due to global warming. Each worker earns 500 rupees a day (3 USD) by planting trees, enough to live by. The workers have already started planting in a 15,000-acre space in the country’s capital city of Islamabad, as well as throughout many national forests.
Although it was initially put on hold due to the coronavirus, the prime minister granted an exemption and allowed the forestry agency to continue the program in order to help those who are struggling economically in these tough times. Over 63,000 jobs are projected to be created, with hopes for many more. This year, the forestry agency plans to triple the number of workers it hired in its first year by creating many new jobs in rural areas and also aiming to hire more women and unemployed workers. Being a country that is at the forefront of the effects of climate change with many unemployed people, Pakistan needs more workers now than ever before.