Pakistan's economic growth is severely constrained by water-related issues, especially the water scarcity, as per capita availability has declined from 5000 m3 in 1950 to about 1100 m3 in 2013.
If current water utilisation trends are not reversed, the country will soon be categorised as a water scarce country.
The US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water has recently been established at the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) in Jamshoro, with financial support of USAID/ Pakistan.
The University of Utah (UU), USA, is providing technical assistance to MUET in preparing the next generation of water sustainability leaders by improving latter's technical and institutional capacities in delivering high quality education and applied research.
In addition to long-term capacity building, both partner universities have embarked on implementing a series of short-term training events in the form of seminars and workshops to enhance awareness about critical water sustainability issues facing Pakistan.
Each seminar/workshop is targeted to cater the needs of a specific set of stakeholders.
The proposed Executive Seminar on "Improving Water Governance in Pakistan" has been organised to discuss opportunities and solutions leading to sustainable water resources management and provision of reliable water services. Organisation of this seminar also coincides with the launching of the Center.
Water governance trends in Pakistan The water governance is usually nested in the setting of overall national governance and is correspondingly influenced. Water governance trends and their consequences in Pakistan suggest the following:
Available water resources are gradually shrinking because of poor operation and maintenance of an already old infrastructure. As a result, overtime, the storage capacity has declined considerably. Pakistan is using 97 percent of its surface water resources and mining its groundwater to support one of the lowest productivities in the world per unit of water and per unit of land.
Pollution of water resources is on the increase; water tables are declining; water distribution and use efficiencies are low both in irrigation and urban water supply networks.
Water quality is deteriorating due to poor irrigation practices, discharges of untreated waste in water bodies, lack of planning and policy enforcement and poor construction practices leading to cross connected sewer and water distribution infrastructure, and absence of sewage and treatment facilities.
Almost 38 percent of Pakistan's irrigated lands have become waterlogged and 14 percent saline.
A large population does not have access to safe drinking water and sustainable sanitation services. This has serious effects in terms of health, education, and productivity losses.
Data on water quantities and qualities across scales in Pakistan is lacking and poorly synthesised for use in decision and policy making. Both the irrigation and drinking water systems are marked with several inequities. Disparities with regard to access not only exist between rich and poor, but also among urban, peri urban and rural areas.
Water remains highly undervalued and readily used without much concern for its value to others. The problem of cross-subsidisation across sectors and different user groups makes it even more important to allocate water based on its value in different uses.
The social, economic and administrative systems that are currently in place to regulate water management and services are not adequately responding to address above challenges. More specifically, institutional structures are fragmented; public-private partnerships are not emerging; there is poor co-ordination among stakeholders; and informed decision making is constrained by evidence-based analysis and information.
Seminar 0bjectives The USPCASW has planned a series of seminars/workshops on several enduring and emerging issues with specific reference to post 2015 water agenda. Main purpose of these seminars/workshops is to bring together senior policy makers and relevant stakeholders together to explore policy and research priorities for addressing water sustainability issues within the framework of water-development nexus. Following are the main objectives of the seminar.
1. raise awareness about how water is positioned in the post-2015 global development agenda, including its relevance to achieving broader goal of poverty reduction in Pakistani context; 2. provide a platform to share knowledge and best practices in water governance, as well as to raise the profile of water governance issues; 3. identify research and policy priorities for improving water governance; and 4. Understand how combined interventions under WEF nexus can impact poverty reduction.