Hungry, drought-stricken corner of Pakistan is a land where ‘humans don’t have water to drink’

Abdul Hameed walks along the edge of the Chiltan dam’s dry reservoir to a hut, where he spends his days watching for passing animals that could be threatened by hunters. Lately, the provincial wildlife ranger says, the beasts have been scarce.

“There used to be ibex, markhor goats, other wildlife,” said Hameed, 49. “But they are migrating from the Chiltan because most of the ponds have gone dry.”

It is a common lament here in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s most expansive but poorest province, which is suffering from a prolonged drought so dire it has triggered a health crisis. Since the 1960s, residents have had one main demand from every provincial government: Give us water.

In 2013, the government optimistically built the Chiltan dam outside Quetta, the provincial capital, to provide water for villages like Qilli Haji Ishaq Khan, where Hameed lives. But with little rain since then, the dam has been of scant value.

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