By Ali Imran
ISLAMABAD: The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan, supported by UKaid, is spearheading the Water Resource Accountability in Pakistan (WRAP) Programme to address critical water challenges confronting Pakistan.
The program is designed to strengthen water resource management capabilities at the federal, provincial, and district levels. Amidst Pakistan’s ongoing water management difficulties, a prominent issue is the lack of reliable annual water accounts that detail water availability, encompassing surface, groundwater, and rainfall, along with their diverse uses in domestic, industrial, agricultural, and environmental contexts within the Indus Basin.
Section 22 of the National Water Policy (NWP) 2018 emphasizes the necessity of a robust water information system to facilitate sustainable water resource planning and development. Responding to this imperative need, IWMI Pakistan recently organized a consultation workshop focused on water accounting and water resources assessment standards to support the implementation of the National Water Policy. After a federal-level water accounting workshop held earlier this year in March, a series of provincial-level workshops are currently underway.
These workshops aim to assess the status of water accounting mechanisms within each province and enhance the capacity of provincial departments in this regard. Dr. Mohsin Hafeez, Director of Water, Food & Ecosystems at IWMI, warmly welcomed the workshop’s participants and provided an insightful overview of the WRAP program, particularly Component 1, which emphasizes climate-resilient solutions for improving water governance (CRS-IWaG).
Dr. Hafeez stressed the importance of forging a path towards a sustainable future by identifying critical areas and solutions for improved water management in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). He emphasized the unveiling of a game-changing water accounting framework to monitor water sources, consumption, and availability. The workshop saw attendance from key stakeholders, policymakers, water experts, and practitioners. Caretaker Minister for Irrigation, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Engr. Ahmad Jan, speaking at the event, highlighted the significance of water for both human and agricultural purposes. He expressed concern over the lack of direction and policy in this crucial area, noting that 90% of sampled water is unfit for consumption, raising concerns about water quality. Engr. Ahmad Jan voiced his openness to policy suggestions and pledged support for implementation, emphasizing the importance of ownership and commitment. He called for collective action, stating that everyone is a leader and institution unto themselves in this journey towards a brighter water future. Mr. M Tahir Orakzai, Secretary of Irrigation, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, pointed out the nationwide water accounting challenge, citing missing crucial data that hampers framework implementation. He stressed the importance of collaboration in water governance and improvement, with IWMI taking a leading role in addressing these challenges. Dr. Jahanzeb Masud Cheema, Water Resources Management Researcher at IWMI, extended a warm welcome to the workshop’s participants. He emphasized the goal of fostering collaboration among departments, addressing water management at both the federal and provincial levels. Dr. Cheema highlighted the need for a holistic approach and emphasized addressing missing elements such as groundwater and crop water use in mapping the journey of water from source to destination. Kanwal Waqar, Gender and Youth Specialist Researcher, delved into the importance of gender diversity, inclusivity, equality, and equity in the WRAP Programme. She underscored the integral role of gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) in their efforts, emphasizing transformative approaches that recognize gender diversity beyond just male or female. Waqar stressed the importance of empowering women, acknowledging their heightened vulnerability to water shortages. The program aims to empower female farmers through capacity-building and climate-smart technologies, creating an enabling environment for them. The overarching objective of the consultation was to enhance water governance through climate-resilient solutions, focusing on implementing federal and provincial-level climate-smart interventions. These initiatives are geared towards strengthening national capacities for implementing such interventions, overcoming technical and non-technical barriers, and ensuring long-term sustainability. Furthermore, the program will generate critical evidence for the implementation of national climate and water policies.