Integrated Water Resources Management in Pakistan


What is the problem?
It is now widely acknowledged that Pakistan is moving from a water stressed to water scarce status, and that the effects of climate change are going to make this even more acute. Climate change will alter the water dynamics in Pakistan. Left unattended it could have disastrous consequences, leading to widespread poverty, conflict and loss of economic welfare. It will also slow down the engine of growth. It thus requires a planned, urgent and targeted response by government and its partners, but little has happened so far.

What is ACT doing about it?
An Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach is seen globally, and by the Government of Pakistan, as a highly relevant approach that offers a great deal in addressing climate change adaptation in the water sector. Managing water demand is an integral component of IWRM. The objective of this intervention is that, as an initial step in establishing IWRM nationally, the impacts of climate change on water demand should be established.
The Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change requested ACT to support a study to assess national water demand. This included a focus on different water uses, water balance, traditional and emerging demands, and the impacts of climate change on demand by 2025 and 2050. Sectoral demands were estimated for all sectors. Existing climate
change models were reviewed, and the ‘best fit’ selected for current climate change scenarios. Secondary sources of information were supplemented through stakeholder meetings held at federal level and in all four provinces: Sindh, Baluchistan, KP and Punjab. The purpose of these was to ensure that a balanced provincial viewpoint was incorporated.

How does government benefit?
At federal level the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) is the nodal agency dealing with climate change, and with whom ACT works on this initiative. The Pakistan National Climate Change Plan (NCCP) was published in 2012, and was followed up by a more detailed Framework for Implementation of Climate Change Policy (FICCP) in 2013. Both documents
place water resources among their highest priorities, and IWRM is one of six policy priorities. Under this priority, one objective is to ensure that water allocations are made according to changes in sectoral demands caused by climate change. One of the specific actions under this objective is to undertake a study to estimate the impacts of climate
change on sectoral demands for water. The work was designed specifically to address this action, and provides government with a robust first step along the way to implementing a full IWRM policy and programme.

How do the poor and vulnerable benefit?
When an effective water management approach is universally implemented across Pakistan as planned by government, there will be very substantial benefits for the livelihoods of
water users, including the poorest. IWRM-focused projects will be leveraged, and community-based natural resource management, local water policy and governance, capacity building and livelihoods interventions will focus on climate change adaptation-friendly actions.

Good governance is a fundamental requirement for development and poverty reduction, and for water this can only be achieved through an IWRM approach. IWRM is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and other related natural resources, to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner. The approach strikes a balance between the use of resources for livelihoods and conservation of the resource for future generations. IWRM embraces economic efficiency, environmental sustainability and social equity. In a climate change context, the approach will need to revise its focus more towards ‘Climate Resilient Water Management’, which is gaining credibility.

What happens next?
The next step is to publish the report as an official MoCC document, which will be launched by government in an appropriate way. After this, a dialogue will be initiated through the formation and meeting of a small working group of key officials from concerned departments, including MoCC and the Ministry of Water and Power (MoWP), followed by a more expanded national level consultative workshop. Provincial level workshops will ensue to develop consensus on the ways forward.
On another front, international and national institutions will be engaged in policy studies around sectoral demand. This will need to be as far as possible decentralized to the provinces.

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