Water Governance in Pakistan
Dr Mahmood Ahmad, Visiting Researcher, Centre for Water Informatics and Technology, LUMS
On Monday April 1st 2019 the Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG) at FCCU held a seminar on water governance. The seminar was co-hosted by WWF-Pakistan, one of the world’s leading conservation organization working.
Effective water governance is increasingly seen as one of Pakistan’s most pressing challenges. As one of the top ten countries affected by climate change, Pakistan will not only experience rapid changes in climactic conditions, and will also suffer if efficient and timely adaptability measures are not put in place. Additionally, as a country where the agricultural sector makes up around 19 per cent of the GDP and employs over 42 per cent of our labour force (Economic Survey 2018), water as a production input is of immense importance. Water for irrigation and livestock requires governance to ensure that the water resources are used in a sustainable manner, with environmentally friendly practices, while safeguarding the country’s food security. Changing climactic conditions hamper the steady availability of both rainwater and groundwater sources and hence make Pakistan susceptible to contrasting periods of floods and droughts. Apart from being essential for agriculture sector, scarcity of water can have developmental implications on industrial sector as well.
Dr Mahmood Ahmad, Visiting Researcher, Centre for Water Informatics and Technology, LUMS was the keynote speaker. He spoke about the much-needed water policy introduced recently in 2018, which has shed light on Pakistan’s rising issue of water scarcity. He evaluated current policies of rationalising water use including the controversial agenda of water pricing. Cropping patterns should also reflect a policy of efficient water use. He also spoke about his current field research that involved water policy consultations with all four provinces of the country. Dr Imdad Hussain, Assistant Professor at CPPG served as a discussant on Dr. Mahmood’s presentation and talked about the challenges of drinking water in Punjab.
Mr. Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan and Mr. Sohaib Anwar Project Manager, WWF-Pakistan spoke about managing water resources through effective governance systems and argued for a more comprehensive, cross-sectoral approach to deal with water scarcity. Water management requires an agenda that goes beyond conservation and includes a diverse set of issues such as securing our biodiversity and improving the technical capacity of all relevant stakeholders.
Mr. Khalid Sherdil, CEO, The Urban Unit presided over the event as chair and spoke about the challenges of governance in effective water management and some of the initiatives Punjab was taking to address the efficient use of water resources including the development of Punjab Water Councils, to be formed under the Punjab Water Act.