Thursday, March 09, 2023, Islamabad: The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan organized a national consultative workshop on Water Accounting and Water Resources Assessment Standards in Islamabad to support the implementation of National Water Policy (NWP), under the UK aid-funded Water Resource Accountability in Pakistan (WRAP) Programme Component 1: Climate Resilient Solutions for Improving Water Governance (CRS-IWaG).
The workshop aimed to bring together key stakeholders, including federal and provincial government officials, policymakers, water experts, and practitioners, to discuss and deliberate on the importance of Water Accounting and its implications for sustainable water management in Pakistan.
Dr Mohsin Hafeez, Country Representative – Pakistan and Regional Representative – Central Asia, IWMI, welcomed the stakeholders and informed that IWMI Pakistan has initiated Water Accounting and water resources assessment at the federal level under the WRAP Programme Component 1: CRS-IWaG. According to Dr Mohsin Hafeez, “IWMI Pakistan is developing national Water Accounting standards through consultation with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), provincial agencies (Irrigation and On Farm Water Management), and academia. Section-22 of the NWP highlights the need for a better water information system to enable the planning and sustainable development of water resources to deal with climate shocks in the Indus Basin. IWMI Pakistan will develop Water Accounting standards and guidelines that should provide an agreed methodology for getting a comprehensive information on water availability (surface, groundwater and rainfall) and their associated usage (domestic, industrial, agriculture and environment) across the Indus Basin.”
There is limited information on water availability from surface, groundwater, and rainwater sources in Pakistan. Each province has developed its own methods of monitoring and measurement of water resources but there is no consistent approach. The adoption of international standards can help develop a unified approach, which will yield accurate information regarding water availability.
Engr. Ahmad Kamal, Chairman, Federal Flood Commission, was the keynote speaker at the event. He presented an overview of challenges and opportunities in the Indus Basin with regards to water resources management. According to him, “Pakistan is the eight most vulnerable country to climate change and over the last 30 years, we have been ranked amongst the top 10 climate vulnerable countries. There is no groundwater regulatory framework, and anyone can abstract as much groundwater as they want, which is leading to fast depletion of groundwater sources across Pakistan.”
A presentation on harnessing the potential of Water Accounting for sustainable water management in Pakistan was delivered by Dr Umar Waqas Liaqat, Researcher – Irrigation, IWMI Pakistan. According to him, “The Water Accounting approach can be implemented at the national level. It offers many benefits, as it promotes Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). IWMI has developed and applied a Water Accounting framework in many transboundary river basins, including South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. This information has successfully been used by the water ministries in the respective countries to identify the water-saving potential and improve productivity of the managed water supplies for these river basins.”
A presentation on water accounts at the provincial level was given by senior officials from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, and AJK. A focus group discussion with the participants on Water Accounting challenges and gaps was also organized to solicit views on how to develop a comprehensive national level Water Accounting system and capacity building of national institutions.
Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), gave the closing remarks. According to him, “Water Accounting is one of the most important aspects of water resources, in fact, it is the foundation of water resources management. All decisions are based on water availability, demand, accessibility, and usage. For equitable distribution of water within and across the sector, Water Accounting is important. Currently, provinces and different organizations are working on Water Accounting but in silos. They should integrate their efforts and improve coordination using a standardized approach.”
The consultation workshop was attended by officials from MoWR, PCRWR, provincial departments, and academia etc.