LAHORE/ Okara – Experts have said the challenges of food and water security in Pakistan become more complex and multifaceted due to the effects of climate change. They said It is crucial to utilize scientific data and take a multidimensional approach to manage water resources sustainably and improve water governance.
They expressed these views at a training workshop organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Okara district the other day focusing on the fundamentals of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
This workshop is part of the CRS-IWaG program, funded by UKaid and overseen by the Punjab Irrigation Department, to improve water governance for climate resilience.
Dr. Jehanzeb Masud Cheema, Researcher – Water Resources Management, IWMI Pakistan, gave an overview of the WRAP program. He believed that “IWMI Pakistan is working in Okara district in collaboration with various government organizations including OFWM, PID, Okara District Administration, academia and farmers. The goal is to improve water resources management and governance in the face of climate change and it is evident as the region is facing severe unprecedented flooding nowadays.”
This workshop was organized to help build a cadre of mid-career professionals and government officials at the district and tehsil level to develop their skills for better water allocation practices, through the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) approach. Dr Cheema further added that “Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) divers installed at various locations of Okara district are providing near real-time information on groundwater quality and quantity that will help to sustainable groundwater reserves and will improve decision making on water governance.”
Engr. Saeed Ullah Alvi, Deputy Director, OFWM District Okara stated that “Climate change is causing water and food insecurity across the country and in Punjab and Okara. We are working with IWMI through Water User Associations in the district by sharing the technology and scientific research and tools to improve irrigation demand management.”
Dr Abdur Rehman Cheema, Regional Researcher – Water Governance and Institutional Specialist, IWMI Pakistan, introduced the basic principles of IWRM and the Punjab Water Act 2019. He said that we need to take a broader view of water availability and its use for various purposes keeping in view the principles of integrated water resources management. The Punjab Water Act is one of the best examples, as it lays out pathways to improve water governance and sustainable water resources management. The hindrances to its implementation must be removed sooner than later.”
Hafsa Aeman, Senior Research Officer – Geoinformatics, IWMI Pakistan, shared the importance of decision-making based on real-time scientific data and water assessments. Kanwal Waqar, Gender and Youth Specialist, IWMI Pakistan, highlighted the importance of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in water resources management, she said “Gender equality and social inclusion needs to be integrated to water and agricultural planning at all levels. Female participation in decision-making is critical for improving water governance in Pakistan.”
Mr Mubashir Ali, Deputy Director, WRZ said, “Future water allocation will need to respond to climate-driven water shortages. The Integrated Water Resources Management approach, as advocated by IWMI today, is essential for ensuring climate resilience in Pakistan.”
The Punjab Irrigation Department (PID), Water Resources Zone (WRZ), and Environment Protection Department (Okara Office) were joined by faculty and students from Okara University and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad sub-campus Okara in attendance.