Climate Change, Water

Transforming the Indus Basin with Climate Resilient Agriculture and Climate-smart Water Management

Pakistan ranks 7th just after the Philippines and Bangladesh on the 2018 Global Long-Term Climate Risk Index published by German Watch and it is expected to be severely impacted by the negative effects of climate change in the future.

Much of the country’s vulnerability is linked to its dominant arid to semi-arid climate, high dependency on a single river system, and snow and glacial meltwater for the supply of water for agriculture.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been tasked by the government of Pakistan to prepare a project proposal to tackle impact of climate change in Agriculture sector. This project is designed to increase the resilience to climate change of agricultural producers in Pakistan’s Indus River Basin.

FAO experts in collaboration with national and other international experts and institutions started work to identify the impact of climate change on agriculture sector in the country in

July 2017. Changes in water availability to agriculture sector were identified as the major climate impact on agriculture sector especially in the wake of temperature increase. FAO Representative, Mina Dowlatchahi highlights “Agriculture consumes roughly 90 percent of all available fresh water supplies.

Agriculture employs more than 40 percent of the labour force. It produces more than 90 percent of the country’s food supply and it generates 75 percent of the country’s export revenues. The agricultural sector is the second largest contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product (19.5%[1]). In the context of changing climate, the nexus between water and agriculture is hugely important for Pakistan as a country”.

FAO has engaged in a series of discussions with different stakeholders at federal, provincial and local level, including the Government of Pakistan to finalize a project that will help small farmers in selected districts of Indus basin to build their resilience and adapt to climate change. The climate impact on agriculture sector was also analyzed and discussed with a wide range of stakeholders including communities, provincial governments, federal  government, academia, civil society organizations and other international organizations.

The project is in final design stage. This project will directly benefit an estimated 1.5 million rural people and set in place conditions could provide benefits for across the entire Indus Basin in Pakistan, an area with more than 90 million rural people that is the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system, covers 18 million hectares, and provides 90% of the country’s food supply.

Taka Hagiwara, Service Chief for the FAO Investement centre and Technical Team Leader explains “The project will achieve this by putting state of the art in the hands of Pakistan’s top level institutions responsible for monitoring weather and climate change, which will be brought together to pool data, information and knowledge resources. The project will institutionalize routine processes to analyze and communicate the knowledge acquired through the use of technology to authorities responsible for agriculture and water management.

It will give to about 200,000 rural households in eight of the most vulnerable districts of the Indus River Basin provinces of Punjab and Sindh field level on-farm training in how to adapt their agricultural practices to the knowledge that they will receive about changing climate. The project will make the knowledge conveyed through training available to an additional 2.5 million rural households through information and communications technology application specifically designed”.

The proposal is spearheaded by the Ministry of Climate Change, with strong engagement from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Ministry of Water at federal level, and the Secretaries of the Agriculture  and Irrigation departments at provincial level. Three workshops were held to validate the contents of the proposal in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad this month.

The project proposal will be submitted to Green Climate Fund for financing. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a unique global initiative to respond to climate change by investing into low emission and climate-resilient development.

GCF was established by 194 governments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and to help adapt vulnerable societies to the impacts of climate change. The formulation team, led by TCIB and FAO Representative, includes officers from FAO HQ, RAP, FAO Pakistan Office and national consultants.


Source: FAO

[1] Pakistan Economic Survey 2016/17. Economic Adviser’s Wing Economic Adviser’s Wing, Finance Division, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad.