FAO strengthening institutional capacities for sustainable water management

Strengthening institutional capacities for sustainable control of sun powered irrigation techniques (SPIS) workshop took place in Islamabad on 24 April 2019. The match was organized by way of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). In contemporary years, solar powered irrigation programs (SPIS) have turn out to be an increasing number of viable for nations as a competent, clean-energy solution for agriculture water use, particularly in spaces with high-incident solar radiation.

As investment prices for SPIS decrease, and governments proceed to subsidize technology, SPIS are becoming a gorgeous option for plenty of farmers. In rural spaces, SPIS could be a method of ensuring get entry to to energy for agriculture, in particular for users in rural areas that lack dependable get admission to to electricity or where diesel gasoline is pricey. In addition, a growing number of nations are promoting SPIS in the framework of national action plans against local weather alternate as some way of lowering carbon emissions in agriculture.

It is crucial, due to this fact, to beef up water control to reach both high water productiveness and increase rural earning

With SPIS expansion and promotion continuing in South Asia, there is a chance to scrupulously imagine the impacts of this generation. This workshop highlighted the desire for a greater working out of ways this technology results groundwater regulation and use, along with exploring financial models and insurance policies that may make sure the poorest farmers get pleasure from the technology where water useful resource prerequisites are appropriate.

Muhammad Hashim Popalzai, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Food Security and Research inaugurated the training saying he was hoping that this workshop would get a hold of policy answers for the stakeholders as well as the government.

FAO Representative Mina Dowlatchahi stated there may be an pressing need to use water extra efficiently in agriculture, however, however, irrigation is likely one of the primary tactics to extend meals manufacturing and rural incomes. It is crucial, due to this fact, to beef up water control to reach both high water productiveness and increase rural earning.

FAO stood ready training and capability development are needed to develop the talents, knowledge and approach to outline, plan and put in force programmes in integrated water resource construction in agriculture.
A panel dialogue also happened, which emphasized the desire for institutional framework, and capability construction of the irrigation establishments of the country. The panelist integrated Robina Wahaj, Land and Water Officer FAO, Dr. Muhammad Ashraf DG-PCRWR, Dr. Pervez Amir water skilled, Dr. Abdul Majeed, water, energy, and climate specialist IUCN, and Dr. Bashir Ahmad, CEWRI, NARC.

Dr Robina Wahaj from FAO stated that consolidated information concerning the groundwater in Pakistan must be available and made out there to the entire stakeholders, which can only be finished via capacity construction and the easier connectivity of establishment.

Inefficient irrigation device is the cause of the mismatched demand and supply of considerable water to agriculture, however, over extraction of the ground water can briefly expend the natural resource, and sun powered irrigation generally is a solution for that.

Group discussion adopted where over thirty participants divided into clusters to speak about the policy framework, socio economic signs for SPIS feasibility mapping, and the bodily indicators for the mapping.

Linking food and energy to save water

Linking food and energy to save water: The interdependence of water, energy and food resources requires co-ordinated policies and improved management

The United Nations forecasts that almost half the world’s population will be living in high water stress areas by 2030, while it has become increasingly apparent water management cannot be looked at in isolation as changes in one system affect others. 

Lisa Walker, chief executive of Ecosphere+, explains: “Essentially, it’s about competition for natural capital – animals and crops, water to feed them, as well as water for bio or hydro energy, mining, oil and gas production, agriculture and cities. The amount of water on Earth has always remained the same, but increasing population has raised demand for food and energy hugely, and both are thirsty.” 

A case in point is food consumption. Land, water, and energy are needed to produce food and, as food requirements increase, so does demand for these factors. Food production doesn’t merely stress its immediate environment; globally traded food is packaged, shipped, flown and delivered to the consumer, and these hidden environmental costs must be factored in to the choices we make as producers and consumers. 

Globally, the role of rainforests cannot be forgotten as they are responsible for 65 per cent of rainfall. The Amazon evaporates eight trillion tonnes of water vapour into the atmosphere each year. This “water pump” sustains $1 billion to $3 billion a year in rain-fed agriculture. It also flows south on a jet stream and feeds one of the world’s biggest breadbaskets, the La Plata Basin of Brazil and Argentina, with rain, while some even reaches the United States and Europe. Hydropower provides 70 per cent of Brazil’s energy, sourced from the Amazon’s rivers. High rates of deforestation are disrupting this flow. 

As Rabi Mohtar, of the World Water Council’s board of governors, says: “The land, water and energy footprint, as well as air, water and soil qualities, are issues that must be quantified and carefully managed to have a food system that is sustainable over time.” He warns: “Due to the inherent interconnections between them, a risk to one of these resources will impact the others.” 

cracked desert ground with grass
Rates of desertification and drought have skyrocketed

Agriculture already consumes two-thirds of the world’s freshwater resources, while one quarter of global energy use is within food production and supply. Hydropower alone is the biggest supplier of renewable energy and provided more than 16 per cent of the world’s electricity in 2016. Rates of desertification and drought have skyrocketed to the tune of 12 million hectares of arable land annually. 

Action is being taken. Large organisations are looking at vertical integration in the supply chain in a number of different ways, from the implementation of new processes to new technologies. Unilever, for example, is encouraging intercropping for its tea farmers, maximising the use of land and providing diversification for farmers. Smart agriculture is becoming a major buzzword and the widespread implementation is laying groundwork for entirely new approaches. 

Addressing losses in water, energy and food is the first step towards their effective management

Mohsen Mohseninia, vice president of market development in Europe at Aeris, says: “Sensors can help collect data about the entire ecosystem in real time, while helping companies offset the environmental footprint of our food. The possibilities that such technologies offer are endless. Data can be captured on anything from the changing amounts of rainfall, to the amount of petrol used transporting goods, to the condition of livestock or crops. This real-time data can be used to better understand how this nexus operates and more importantly understand the impact of people’s decisions.” 

There is no doubt that actions are being taken, ranging from increasing support, to fighting deforestation, to changing management of commodity supply chains. The Paris Agreement on climate change includes the REDD+ mechanism to help reduce deforestation and degradation, development of carbon pricing at the “micro-transaction” which can be scaled up into large sums, and the development of new processes and technologies; these will all provide part of the solution to the challenge. 

However, as Dr Feja Lesniewska, from the School of Law at SOAS, says: “All positive incentives could be cancelled out by climate change response measures that are not in harmony with WEF [water-energy-food] systems thinking. For instance, expanding monocultural plantations for bioenergy crops could reduce the availability of land suitable for agricultural purposes, especially in developing countries, as well as place further stresses on fresh water. Although interventions may be geographically specific, they can often have transnational ramifications that threaten other regional ecosystems WEF resilience.” 

Managing waste is one of the most important ways in which we can address these systemic challenges. In the UK, we throw away around half our food, import more than half our water in goods and energy efficiency is relatively low throughout the economy. Addressing losses in water, energy and food is the first step towards their effective management, while more education about the interconnectedness of these systems should help drive action. 

Many governments are beginning to take the interconnected nature of systems into account, but it’s a slow process. The role of business in sustainable development is vital and the UN’s sustainable development goals have provided a strategic framework for companies leading the charge. 

Gary Davis, president of Ecometrica, points out: “We can drive change through behaviour. Consumers can change their habits quickly and companies take notice of that. Companies get a competitive edge [by greening their supply chain], but it’s always important for governments to come in behind, reinforce actions and put in place a regulatory framework.” 

Mr Mohtar concludes: “Enabling policy coherence must be a priority for addressing and resolving nexus issues. This involves adjusting current practices – business as usual – to allow better communication and co-ordination across agencies that manage water-energy-food resources. Policies for any one of the WEF sectors must also consider its impact upon other sectors.” 

Well of Death

Well of Death: There are much more blessing of Allah on us and water is one of those. Water covers two third of theearth’s surface. Human body comprises 75% of water. Only the brain comprises 85% of water and approximately 90% of the blood flowsthrough our veins also contains water. It is also significant to several functions in living organism and plays a vital role in digestion, metabolizing body fats. More importantly it maintains the body temperature. Doctors recommend 8 to 9 cups of water in a day, about 20% of this fluid comes from food intake so additional 8 cups beverages will replace 6 cups lost from urine and 4 cups lost elsewhere. Pure water has no color; test and smell.There are three forms of water such as liquid, solid and gas. Evidently water is one of the important elements responsible for life on the earth. Drinking and using neat and clean water is a sign of hale and hearty health and genial environment. Water contains Hydrogen+ Oxygen, which is very essential for living organisms. Water is not only necessary for human beings but also required by plants on different stages for their growth to become healthy and to survive for long time so it can provide quality fruits which will be rich in nutrients after consuming.

                                         Waste water impacts all kind of living creatures. Wastewater is simply water that has various pollutants depending on what it was used for.Municipal wastewater (also called Sewerage)comes through residential source including toilet, bathing, laundry, sink and others (contain body waste, containing intestinal disease organisms).some wastewater is discharged by commercial enterprises and manufacturing processes. Process wastewater contains rinse including residual acids, toxic chemicals and planting metals; discharging of such kind of wastewater in oceans or rivers, which spreads many kinds of disease. Killing fishes and destruction of other form of aquatic life as well as can negatively affect the water for drinking purposes and household needs.

                                         Sewerage drains directly or indirectly into major drainage basin with minimal or no management. That has serious impacts on the quality of environment and health of people. Pathogens are susceptible to human health. Some chemicals pose risks even at very low level, and can remain a threat for long periods because of bioaccumulation in animal or human tissue.

                                         Agriculture and Farming is the reason for survival of human’s lives in the world. It is essential for survival; without which there would be famines. For thousands of years, agricultural was a natural process which did not influence the land. In fact, farmers could pass their land for many generations and it would still be fertile as ever. However, modern agricultural practices and some unskillful farmers have started the process of agricultural pollution. This process causes the degradation of the eco-system, land and environment.

                                         Since early in history, people have dumped Sewerageinto waterways; use of sewerage water for irrigation of crops is an old practice in many big cities of Pakistan.Sewerage water is used as potential source of irrigation for raising vegetables and fodder crops which are directly or indirectly consumed by human beings.

                                         Sewerage water contains large amount of nitrogen + phosphorus and other elements. Nitrogen require by plant for their vegetative growth such as plant height, leaf size etc. plant absorb nitrogen in the form of nitrate. Some limited number of elements are required by plants, but excessive amount of that elements which sewerage water contains causes injuries for plants, humans, livestock and other living organisms and environment.when field is treated by wastewater of sewerage and factories some amount will be absorbed by plants and other will remain on the surface of the soil and that will increase the PH level and toxicity of soil and that water will leach down to underground water system through soil and will pollute underground water which we are using for drinking and other needs of life. plants which are treated by sewerage water and factories waste water reaches to bear fruit. Such fruits will be harmful for us and livestock.

                                         Many viral, bacterial, fungal, and pathogenicdiseases which are directly or indirectly caused by wastewater likeskin diseases,malaria, cough, fever, diarrhea, kidney stone, heartattack, degradation of digestive, respiratory, nervous systemand human allergies etc. Specifically, bioaerosols emitted by wastewater treatment plants can impact the air quality in negative ways. In past, microbial concentrations in the surrounding air from the aeration tanks of wastewater treatment plants at different heights and different distances.More analytical epidemiological investigations are needed to determine the cause as well as the burden of the diseases to inhabitants living surrounding the wastewater.

                                         Our planet has the significant ability to heal itself, but there is a limit to what it can do and we must make it our goal to always stay within safe boundaries. That limit is not always clear to scientists, so we must always take the safe approach to avoid it.Some unskilled farmers are not familiar with the health hazard products which they are producing through wastewater. We should aware our farmers to the disadvantages of caused by these agricultural products, which are produced through wastewater to keep living creature safe from health risk. Our government should organize seminars on small level, guidance programs on radio, awareness programs on television should be telecast and articles in newspapers should be published specifically about the negative impact factors of usage of wastewater in cultivation of different corps to make them aware about ups and downs.Any kind of washable agricultural product should be washed before use.

Authors:
Muhammad Bilal Khan, Erum Rashid, Shahla Rashid
(University College of Agriculture University of Sargodha)

Water and Agriculture Scenario in Pakistan

(By Rohoma Tahir, Mujahid Ali, H.M. Bilal, Rabbia Zulfiqar)

(Horticulture, College of Agriculture, UOS)

Recently Pakistan is among most threatening countries regarding water shortage in the world. This alarming situation is very severe as our main livings depend upon agriculture. Without agriculture, man can’t live and without irrigation, man can’t have agriculture. Food is most important for human beings as well for animals for their life. In the beginning, a man pleased his hunger by eating fruits from the forest and drinking water from natural streams. Slowly his need become bigger and he felt the need of different types of food. He started cultivating and retreat crops. Agriculture was his only occupation. He depended mainly on rainwater to water the crops, but nature did not prefer him always. Occasionally droughts were harsh and there was an influence on lack of harvest. There was a need for irrigation and he started to use water from ponds, streams, and rivers for agriculture. Irrigation is defined as the supplementation of precipitation by storage and transportation of water to the fields for the proper growth of agricultural crops.

The Sumerians of Mesopotamia were the first to use water for agriculture. In North America, Spanish and Americans built canals along the Rio Grande. With the development of agriculture, irrigation became more known in the Indus Valley, presently India and Pakistan. Today 689 million acres of agricultural land is irrigated with water to facilities across the whole world. Out of total 68% of irrigated land is in Asia, 17% in North America, 9% in Europe, 5% in Africa and 1% in Oceania.

Water is the basic element that maintains life. Misuse of water has the capacity to cause agricultural, economic, climatic and political issues in the area. Many countries around the world have fallen victim to water-conflicts. Water sharing and the uses of six rivers is the second major issue between Pakistan and India after the Kashmir issue. Five rivers reach to the Pakistan Punjab and all join at Mithinkot – this point is called Panjnad.

David Eli Lilienthal, known for leading the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), visited India and Pakistan to observe the reality of the issue. He noticed, “No army, with bombs and shellfire, could ravage a land as thoroughly as Pakistan could be ruined by the simple advisable of India’s forever shutting off the sources of water that keep the fields and the people of Pakistan alive.”

Pakistan is basically an agricultural country 65% population of Pakistan is related to agricultural unfortunately Pakistan is present near tropic and it received less rain during the year that’s why irrigation system for Pakistan act as the backbone of our economy.

Farming and agriculture are the oldest activities being performed by the human on this earth. Pakistan has one of the most fertile soils in this world and its credit goes to Indus valley in this region. Canal water is just like the blood of agriculture and farming, there was a time when such activities used to be performed near rivers but as the time passed the land near the river was no more available, but the requirement of water was still there.  The area where Pakistan is blessed with natural gifts and one of the gift is the irrigation system. 75% of the Pakistan land which is used as an agricultural land that is covered by the irrigation system. Rivers have been the largest source of water; the rainfall has also been the 2nd important source and the 3rd one is groundwater.

The irrigation system is not as new as it sounds. For irrigation system, we find perennial canals and tube wells. The major source of water supply throughout Pakistan is Indus River. And Dams and Barrages have been established on them. Tarbela and Mangla are the larger dams in Pakistan. And they generate hydroelectricity, storing water and irrigating the land. Small dams are used as a water reservoir and they also supply water, three Small dams are Khanpur Dam, Rawal Dam, and Hub Dam.

Difference between dams and Barrages are: Dams are built on mountainous where the Barrages based on flat surfaces. Barrages are used as a supply of irrigation to the agricultural land. In Pakistan, there are four Barrages: Sukkur Barrage, Guddu Barrage, Kotri Barrage, and Chashma Barrage are well known.

A canal is a basic mean that provides water from the river to agriculture field where it is required. Canals are come out of rivers, dams, and barrages. The irrigation system of Pakistan is best in all over the world’s irrigation system. This system is good due to a canal.

Canals take water from the river when the water level is rise due to flood. That’s why the extra water is used in a better way rather than spoil around the area. Perennial canals are those canals which are taken from the Dams and Barrages these canals also supply water to the field. In Pakistan there are No. of large dams 3, No. of small dams 85, No. of Barrages 16, No. of Headworks 2, No. of interlink Canlas 12, No. of canals system 44, No. of watercourse 107,000, Lengths of canals 56,073 Km, Length of water course 1.6 Million km, Irrigated area 36 Million Acres, Average escapade to the sea 39.4 MAF.

For the use of groundwater 0.7 million tube wells have been installed. All the resources are used to fulfill the requirement of water. But with the passage of time, the demand for water is high, and these resources are not enough to meet the need. There is need to make new Dams and other resources to strengthen the irrigation system.

Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Pakistan and irrigation system is the major resource for agriculture. Fortunately, like gas, oil and coal resources Pakistan is rich in fertile land and its irrigation system is considered as one of the world’s largest irrigation system. ‘Water is one of the rarest and the most precious sources in the world’.

Pakistan is an agricultural country and it is totally depending on irrigation. There are several Irrigation systems of Pakistan, for example rivers, canals, barrages, headworks, dams and tube wells. Total agricultural land of Pakistan measured in 2011 by World Bank was 223850 sq.-km. which is on 4th in the world, but unfortunately this area is shrinking due to several factors, for example roads and highways, mega migration to cities, lack of water for irrigation and housing societies.

History of the irrigation system of Pakistan in 1947 when the Indian sub-continent was divided in to two independent states, like many issues there is water issue as well. In 1960 both countries signed the “Indus Water Treaty”. According to the treaty In,dia was given the Eastern Rivers named as Sutlej, Bias and Ravi. And under the control of Pakistan, there are three Western rivers Jhelum, Indus and Chenab. Unfortunately, it was signed back in 1960’s that India can water of Pakistani controlled Rivers for irrigation and power generation purposes as Pakistan is at downstream of these rivers. Since Pakistani controlled river is in India, so there is a chance that India effects on irrigation resources of Pakistan, as he did during war time in 1965 and 1971.

Irrigation Sources in Pakistan: Indus river is a major source of water in Pakistan which is subdivided into its branches downstream known as Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej also Kabul River. About 70% of total water consumed for irrigation, Due to high variation in rainfall, mostly observed in monsoon season, it is very difficult to maintain water for flood and irrigation of healthy and unhealthy rivers. One of the sources of refill are the hill fast-moving water, also known as ‘torrent’. There are 14 different ‘hilly-torrents’ in Pakistan.

Some other causes of restocking the Indus River Basin are: 1) Melting of snow 2) Precipitation, although melting process may cause more damage, but precipitation frequency is much higher than other one. At Karakorum Range, which includes a couple of tallest mountains in the world, it usually rains in winter which increases the packed snow at these high mountains. This snow melts in summers and converts in to runoff contributing about 82% of water for ‘KAREEF’ season and 18% for ‘RABEE’ season. RABEE starts from mid of November and ends at May, and KAREEF season starts from April to September.

Condition of Tarbela, Chashma and Mangla Dams reservoirs is reducing water storage capacity which will badly affect the water supply for irrigation in agriculture. KBD water reservoir will have storage capacity for more than 100 years. Reduced water supply in downstream areas in Punjab and Sindh will lead to the salt content of drinkable water cause shortage of drinking water availability for Punjab and Sindh.

Sindh will be the most affected area if Kalabagh is not built. Areas which are under irrigation at now may become barren, converted into a desert. KBD will store and release water flood when needed for agriculture in Sindh, thus saving the damage due to floods and meeting water required for agriculture and saving the salt content of groundwater at a shallow level.  It will save land currently under cultivation from turning barren.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry”. According to the Wapda chief, almost 60% of the Pakistan population is directly linked in agriculture and livestock and despite being it also included in 15 most water-scarce countries, Pakistan has one of the most water-intensive agriculture with the fourth highest water use rate. Pakistan needs to narrow the huge gap between the growing population and its needs, and the number and capacity of water reservoirs.

Research reports have warned that Pakistan will have water scarcity by the year 2025 if Kalabaag dam is not built. It’s time that we stand up to save Pakistan, save ourselves and our coming generations from the drought and famine. Support Kalabagh Dam as W.H. Auden once said, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

Gwadar Needs Research on Water

By Tassadduq Rasool*, Mujahid Ali**

*Agronomy, **Horticulture; University of Agriculture Faisalabad

The port city of Gwadar has got more attention after being a part of China-CPEC program. This Sino-Pak project is expected to give unprecedented economic benefits to the region. The real estate personal skyline its future as a Dubai like city and Govt. is committed to making it a modern port city. However, despite many positive initiatives, still, it has an alarming issue and ground realities are quite different. Gwadar port city was hit by an acute water shortage this year when the main supply source “Akara Kaur Dam” dried out, that is located 25 km from Gwadar city. A team of researchers led by Shahid Naseem from the University of Karachi assessed water quality of Akara Dam and found its composition suitable for use as fresh water. However, it is influenced by calcium sulfate dissolution and might deteriorate its quality in near future. Water is a versatile resource for a human being that fulfills its domestic, agricultural and industrial needs. About 100000 local residents of Gwadar need access to this basic life facility. They are dependent on costly portable water supplied by tankers from a distance of 80 km. Gwadar, being projected a well growing port city, will have its water requirement increased in the coming days. According to Leonardo da Vinci “Water is driving force of all nature”. The government has prioritized to establish new desalinization plants under CPEC-project, to make fresh water available for the better future of this city. These plants will supply 5 million gallons of water per day at a rate of 80 cents per gallon. These plants will be inaugurated in January-2018 and people will have access to clean drinkable water. The development of the city is strongly correlated to access of basic life facilities. We need research that should prioritize the use of water according to its quality. Moreover, domestic use can be cut down by developing water conservation tools by domestic engineering. The ocean can be a good resource for an endless supply of drinkable water. The research should be based on desalinization of seawater, use of brackish groundwater and reuse of wastewater. The most prominent techniques for desalinization are thermal desalinization adopted in the Persian Gulf and pretty much common is “the reverse osmosis” everywhere in the world. Water is taken through intake pipes from the ocean, filtered from largely sized contaminants or sea living creatures and passed through pressurized reverse osmosis system, to screen salts through membranes. The only issue is that, membranes pores are choked by microbial colonization and it makes it costly to periodically clean the membranes. Recently a breakthrough in the membrane technology has been made, that utilizes the lava stone to capture microbes, before they reach the membranes. There are several other possible technologies of future like “Spin cycle” developed by Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California; membrane screening under low hydraulic pressure, forward osmosis, and microbial fuel cell etc. Another cost-effective technology is “Biosantizer” developed by Dr. Uday S. Bhawalkar in INDIA to treat waste-water. This technique is an ecological-based and has shown sustainability for the last 12 years. Recently a group of scientists in Australia has developed a salt tolerant wheat by incorporation of gene “TmHKT1;5-A”; a big breakthrough in the food production in the salt-affected areas. Moreover, Israel is meeting 60% of its domestic water needs by desalinization of water. The research on efficient use of water in homes has cut down to halves than actual needs. They have prioritized the research on drip irrigation, water treatment and desalinization. The major driving force behind all this effort is that, Israel is in one of the driest regions and has faced the challenge of severe drought in 2008. So, turning ocean into drinking water is not out of future now. The Sorek desalinization plant in Israel is the largest facility in the world, working on reverse-osmosis principle. It supplies 1.5 million people with drinkable water. There would be seven desalinization plants working by 2020, in Los Angeles and Orange counties of USA. Another important facility is in Carlsbad desal, that is supplying 50 million gallons of water per day to San Diego, USA.  The cost estimates show that fresh drinkable water has no alternative. The cities near the ocean have limited access to fresh water, and they meet their need either from imported supply or from desalinization. According to estimates, desalinization costs might range from Rs. 209000 to Rs. 221000, per 326000 gallons of water (Costs converted from Dollars to Pak currency). There are many disasters due to water shortages. Recently in Syria, more than a million farmers made strikes in Aleppo because drought affected severely the agriculture and wells eventually dried out due to extensive pumping deeps in the water table. The efficient household water use can be a game changer as well. Israel recaptures the 86 % of the water going down into drains and utilize it for agriculture. Another most efficient country is Spain that has the capability to capture almost 18% for utilization. The modern world has developed the efficient toilet and shower systems, and innovative treatment systems that make them reusable. Water conservation has become essential even in areas of abundant water supply. Overall, I can say, it’s not easy to make all waters drinkable especially from the sea that contains salts within a range of 30000-40000 ppm as compared to freshwater 1000 ppm. Still, there are a lot of option and a hope. The desalinization era has been started by Israel.

Water management: ‘Lack of water access adds to social inequalities’

By Aroosa Shaukat

Lack of access to water in the subcontinent is adding to the prevalent social inequalities in the region, according to the Human Development in South Asia 2013 report, launched by the Mahbubul Haq Human Development Centre on Thursday at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The report, titled Water for Human Development, expresses concern over the conservation and storage of water in the region and the lack of discourse on the subject of climate change. It states that countries in the region must work together to manage trans-boundary water issues, since their economies were driven by water.

Khadija Haq, the lead author and president of the MHHDC, said the report focused on the impact of social and economic development on people. “Development should be measured in terms of what it really means to people and their lives,” she said.Water management: ‘Lack of water access adds to social inequalities’

Haq said that in countries like Pakistan, whose economy depended on agriculture, reforms in the area of water management were essential. Summing up the report’s findings, she said the region had one of the highest population proportions who did not have access to clean water. The lack of clean water and sanitation made the region more susceptible to disease, particularly water-borne illnesses. She added that regional countries could tackle the water-related challenges by improving infrastructure, water management and policies.

“We cannot develop economically unless we have safe drinking water for the population,” said River Ravi Commission Secretary Ahmad Rafay Alam. He noted that almost 90 per cent of Pakistan’s water use was in the agriculture sector, so efficient farming methods were vital. He also expressed concern about water pricing, saying there was a high probability of water being commodified further if policymakers kept turning a blind eye to the issue.

Former finance minister and World Bank vice president Shahid Javed Burki agreed. He said water should not be treated like a commercial commodity, but like a basic need. With the population in urban areas increasing 30-fold since Partition, Burki said, the need for water was increasing at an alarming rate. “People use water in a different manner in urban areas,” he said. “If these people are accommodated, it will be at the cost of our agriculture.”

Burki advised that Pakistan work with its neighbours to resolve issues.Ad1

LUMs Vice Chancellor Dr Sohail Naqvi commended the MHHDC and hoped that its research in human development would help generate a clearer picture in the country and the region. He said local research showing the impact of development on human lives could help speed up policy-making in the region.

Report

According to the report, 1.5 billion of South Asia’s 1.65 billion population now has access to water. Umer Malik, a senior research fellow at the MHHDC, told The Express Tribune that the bigger question was the quality of water. The report states that between 1990 and 2010, the proportion of people using an improved water source increased from 76 per cent to 89 per cent. It says nearly 1 billion people are still deprived of improved sanitation facilities, which was one of the reasons for poor health in the region.

The report also points out inefficiency and poor resource management. “The region fails to use water efficiently,” Malik said, adding that wasting water would have disastrous consequences in the future.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2013.