Political dialogue is the key to resolving water use issues amongst Provinces, say experts at the Provincial Consultative Workshop for Punjab

IUCN Pakistan organised a provincial consultative workshop for Punjab on ‘Pakistan Water Programme’ in Lahore on January 29, 2013 in collaboration with Oxfam-Novib.

Provincial consultative workshop for Punjab on ‘Pakistan Water Programme’ in Lahore Photo: IUCN Pakistan

The objective of the consultative workshop was to discuss priority issues that Punjab is facing with respect to water resources. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Shahid Ahmad, an eminent expert on the subject.

The event was attended by senior officials from various provincial departments i.e., Punjab Irrigation, Environment, Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries departments and Water & Power Development Authority, representatives from the research institutions, academia including; International Water Management Institute, Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources,  Punjab University and Agriculture University Faisalabad and the Lahore Women University.  Representatives of the IUCN member organisations including: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Shirkat Gah-Women Resource Centre and South-Asia Partnership. Eminent experts, Mr. Mohammad Hussain Bhatti of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Organisation and Rana Shabbir Ahmad, Chief Conservator of Punjab Forest Department were also amongst the participants.

Dr. Shahid Ahmad said that trans-boundary and trans-provincial water conflicts on Indus River are getting severe with the rise in demand, where such a situation is affecting country’s plans for developing hydro-power infrastructure on main Indus River. He said that there is a disconnect between strategy and framework of actions used for management of water, as the link between institutions dealing with different sources of water and its sub-sectors is missing. He further said that improved governance at all levels is essential to ensure water security in many respects i.e. capacity, infrastructure, mobility, institutions, transparency and accountability, etc.

Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, IUCN Country Representative in his remarks mentioned that in a scenario, where per capita water availability is reducing, the current usage practices required to be reviewed, as water is no more a free commodity. Mr. Cheema was of the view that the issue of water availability needs to be taken as a ‘multi-sectoral issue’, where its linkages with agriculture, livelihood and nature must be kept in view while devising strategies, plans and programmes of this sector.

Mr. Riaz Nazir Tarar, who is an eminent expert, said that hydro-diplomacy is of critical importance, for which the scientific knowledge-base needs to be strengthened for supporting informed decision making. He further said that the lavish and un-wise use of water, both for agriculture and domestic needs must be curtailed.

Dr. Ashfaq Ahmad Chatha from Agriculture University, Faisalabad stressed on measures to enhance effective use of available water resources. He said that rain water harvesting for domestic use and re-use of grey-water for agriculture can be promoted as best examples to achieve water security. Mr. Ahmed Ali Zaffar, Additional Secretary, Punjab Agriculture Department appreciated the organizers and experts for highlighting very important issues and offered support of the Government of Punjab to carry forward the recommendations for holding a regional dialogue on the subject.

All the participants of the workshop unanimously agreed that continuous political dialogue is the key to resolving issues of water usage amongst  the provinces. It was stressed that in the long run shared understanding and wise use of available water resources can ensure water security and economic prosperity in the country.

The deliberations taken place during the workshop will be followed by consultations at the national level and will be used to develop a robust and strategic Water Programme for Pakistan by IUCN and Oxfam Novib.

Notes to editors

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Saadullah Ayaz, Coordinator Climate Change/Clean Air,
IUCN- Islamabad Programme Office
Tel: ++92 051 2271 027-034,
Email: saad.ayaz@iucn.org
Web: https://www.iucn.org/pakistan

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