The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) hosted a panel discussion on the occasion of the launch of Hisaar Foundation’s report, ‘Recommendations for Pakistan’s National Water Policy Framework.’
The report is a culmination of two years of consultations, including discussion sessions with various water stakeholders across the spectrum, as well as two international water conferences that focused on water cooperation and water security. The recommendations are part of the first report of Hisaar Foundation’s Think Tank on Rational Use of Water.
The recommendations focus on five main areas for further action. These include improving water access for the poor and landless, financing the urban and rural water value chain, safeguarding the Indus Basin and its infrastructure, improving water institutions and their management and governance, and finally building a base for science, technology, and social aspects of water.
The policy framework was presented by Dr. Salman Shah, former Finance Minister and Member, Think Tank on Rational Use of Water. The panelists included notable personalities from the government, industry, non-government sector and academia such as Mr. Abdul Basit, President Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Arif Nadeem, CEO Pakistan Agricultural Coalition and former Secretary Irrigation, Dr. Abubakar Muhammad, Director, LUMS Centre for Water Informatics and Technology (WIT), and Mr. Khalid Mohtadullah, member, Think Tank on Rational Use of Water. The launch ceremony was moderated by Ms. Simi Kamal, an international water and gender specialist and Convener, Think Tank on Rational Use of Water.
Dr. Salman Shah highlighted that while there is a water accord between the provinces, there is no sharing mechanism within each province. Mr. Khalid Mohtadullah emphasised that Pakistan is a water economy and that it is possible to save water in agriculture, yet increase production and productivity. Mr. Arif Nadeem stated that Pakistan is in the business of “build-neglect-rebuild” and raised caution that there is very little maintenance of the existing system. Mr. Abdul Basit acknowledged that the industry sector needs to be sensitised and made cognizant of the need for water efficiency and conservation in production processes. Dr. Abubakar Mohammad shared that the future of technology and use of intelligent machines will change the agricultural scenario and revolutionise the way water is used, managed and governed.
The recommendations in the report call for extending the irrigation system to arid districts of Pakistan; creating new storages and enhancing existing storages at different levels to improve water efficiency by 10 percent; increasing productivity in agriculture; preserving, repairing and maintaining the existing water infrastructure; reversal in abiyana to realise the true value of water; control in groundwater withdrawals as well as generation of additional indigenous hydropower; increased coordination between water, agriculture, and industry for maximum benefits and making investment in water infrastructure and hydropower a core part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.