If Pakistan’s water crisis and environmental degradation were allowed to continue, they might significantly affect production of crops, including wheat and rice.
These views were expressed by water and environmental experts on Monday during the inaugural ceremony for two new Oxfam Novib development projects on water governance and climate change awareness. Indus Consortium, a local NGO, will manage field operations for both projects.
Speaking at the launch, Oxfam Novib Climate Change and Livelihoods Adviser Javeria Afzal said, “We need to plan ahead to cope with disasters. She said the developed countries might have the resources and technology to reduce losses from adverse effects of climate change, but Pakistan was suffering a lot even though its share in global greenhouse gas emissions was minimal.
National Coordinator of the Indus Consortium Hussain Jarwar said the canal water irrigation system in Punjab and Sindh needs to be improved drastically to benefit small farmers who draw water from the tail-ends of canals and water courses. These small farmers receive little or no water compared to their entitlement, Jarwar said.
“Water theft, water losses due to seepage and leakage, delayed supply, absence of information, large landholders’ exploitation, unmaintained water courses and over-installation of tube wells are the main causes of hardship for small farmers at the tail-ends”, he said.
Shafqat Aziz of Oxfam Novib said the media could play a pivotal role in awareness campaigns on climate change and water issues. Development professionals should proactively liaise with journalists, Aziz said.
Speakers said the overall objective of the water governance project was to contribute towards improvement of the water governance at local level by informing policy formulation process for equitable distribution, better management and enhanced productivity.
The two projects also aim to mobilise and organise partner communities at the local level for their water rights. Departments of at least three public sector universities and the youth, in general, will also be engaged through conventional and innovative activities for awareness-raising on relevant issues, according to Oxfam Novib.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2014.