Monday, June 5, 2023, Lahore: The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan celebrated World Environment Day 2023 by organising a capacity building workshop for media and highlighting the role of water governance in fostering prosperity and sustainable development in Punjab.

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The workshop was organised under the UK Aid-funded Water Resource Accountability in Pakistan (WRAP) Programme Component 1: Climate Resilient Solutions for Improving Water Governance (CRS-IWaG) led by IWMI, through which water governance reforms will be introduced in Punjab and at the federal level.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Mohsin Hafeez, Director – Water, Food and Ecosystems, IWMI, and Team Leader, WRAP Programme Component 1: CRS-IWaG, informed the media that with increasing impacts of climate change, Punjab is experiencing unpredictable rainfall patterns, which is increasing reliance on groundwater resources. He suggested, “Through climate-smart interventions, IWMI Pakistan aims to guide farmers, industrialists, urban water users, and other stakeholders on sustainable water use, so that water scarcity can be addressed.”

Dr. Hafeez also gave an overview of the implementation progress of Punjab-specific interventions introduced under the WRAP Programme Component 1: CRS-IWaG. It includes the implementation of a robust capacity building programme for government departments and other stakeholders at provincial and district (Okara) level; installation of Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) automated groundwater divers and soil moisture sensors in Okara for groundwater monitoring and assessing crop water requirements respectively; development of Water Accounting (WA+) and Irrigation Demand Management (IDM) framework, geotagging of groundwater monitoring sites for piezometer installation in Okara through Principal Component Analysis (PCA), and approaching academia in Punjab to develop consortium of societies on environment and agriculture for students’ capacity building.

An early success has been the notification by Punjab Irrigation Department (PID) confirming the adoption of PCA methodology introduced by IWMI under the programme. The field teams of Irrigation Department have been instructed to install piezometer wells at locations identified through PCA.

Dr. Muhammad Javed, Director, Social and Environment Management, Strategic Planning and Reform Unit (SPRU), PID, briefed the participants on the role of water governance for prosperity and sustainable development in Punjab. According to him, “Punjab Water Act 2019 has been introduced to regulate groundwater abstraction, regulation of disposal of wastewater, and provision of sub-sectoral allocation of water. A licensing regime has been established through which any entity who wants to abstract water needs to get a license.” He also informed about the various initiatives of PID to improve water governance in Punjab.

Engr. Malik Muhammad Akram, Director General, On Farm Water Management (OFWM) Punjab, highlighted the challenges faced by the agriculture sector and how improved management of water resources can contribute towards agricultural productivity in Punjab. He said, “We need to benefit from each drop of water, each inch of land, and each unit of electricity. An integrated approach will allow government departments, research institutions, and academia to work together for improved water governance in Punjab. There is also a need to bring more area under cultivation, especially Potohar, Thal, and Cholistan areas.

Other experts who presented at the workshop included Hafsa Aeman, Senior Research Officer – Geoinformatics, IWMI Pakistan, and Kanwal Waqar, Researcher – Gender and Youth Specialist, IWMI Pakistan.

World Environment Day is organised every year on June 5 to raise global awareness on the importance of protecting natural resources and supporting local climate action. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually since 1973, it has become the largest global platform for environmental outreach. It is celebrated by millions of people across the world. This year, World Environment Day is hosted by Côte d’Ivoire and supported by the Netherlands.

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