Every drop counts: ‘Changing lifestyle adds strain to existing water sources’

Conference held on Wednesday to form policies for water cooperation.

Our Correspondent December 04, 2013
Conference held on Wednesday to form policies for water cooperation.

KARACHI: As lifestyles change, population grows and the economy develops, the strain on our water resources also grows, said speakers at a conference on Wednesday.

Increased competition for water can be a potential cause for conflict, both within and between countries. The speakers were sharing their views during a conference on ‘Water Cooperation in Action - from grassroots to the global’ organised by Hisaar Foundation to mark 2013 as the international year of water cooperation by the UN.

The aim of the conference was to reach out to all critical stakeholders, such as government representatives, academia, civil society, media, business and corporate sector and urban and rural communities to identify strategies and policies to promote and implement water cooperation in relevant contexts.  During various roundtable discussions, speakers’ corners, an exhibition of water products and services, book launches and a youth assembly, the speakers highlighted the burning issues of water management and conservation.

Dr Zaigham Habib, an independent researcher of environment and climate change, said Pakistan has compromised on providing drinking water access to its people by signing the Indus Water Treaty. “Access to clean and sufficient drinking water is recognised as a human right that should be ensured,” she said, adding that investments should focus on both urban and rural areas to remove disparities in prices and availability.

She added that Pakistan needs a national water policy for sustainable development in the 21st century. Land and water are Pakistan’s main natural resources endowments, she said.

“The national water policy should be firmly anchored in developing a balance between productivity and conservation, and between utilising water and protecting the environment,” she said.

Prof Noman Ahmed of the Architecture and Planning Department at NED University said that all water projects approved are carefully screened in terms of climate change and appropriate measures are included to enable both mitigation and adaptation perspectives.

Irrigation water efficiency can be enhanced by improving delivery systems, establishing benchmarks for minimum crop water requirements and promoting efficient irrigation practices, he suggested. By adopting new technologies to conserve rainwater and harvest crops, water can be managed efficiently.

“Pakistan should adopt a comprehensive set of water laws that define water rights, its uses, values, conservation and principles of pricing, subsides, licences and polluter penalties,” he said. Other speakers included participants from the UK, USA, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Tanzania.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.


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