Hisaar Foundation (meaning protective circle) originated with the response to the severe drought that affected parts of Pakistan in 1999 – 2000. Given that the government was slow to respond and people were left without food and water in part of Sindh and Balochistan, a small group of concerned citizens in Karachi set up a committee and launched the Thar Drought Appeal, which later became the Pakistan Drought Appeal.
Initially supported by two private sector organizations this initiative soon developed into “Hisaar Foundation – A Foundation for Water, Food and Livelihood Security” in 2000. The Memorandum and Articles of Association were developed in 2001 and the Foundation was formally registered as a non-profit company (under section 42 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984) in January 2003 with nine governors.
Its first Board consisted of seven members: Zahra Rahim and Simi Kamal from the water sector, Badruddin F Vellani and Aliya Khan from the legal profession, Zia Niazi from the education sector, Sarfaraz A Rehman from the corporate sector and Raees Gaya, a chartered accountant.
This group steered Hisaar Foundation in its early years, added the think tank and intellectual underpinnings, lobbied with government and civil society groups on water conservation and water management, and developed linkages from the grassroots to the global. Through this work three organizational themes were developed for Hisaar Foundation: building partnerships for implementation of our concepts and models, developing solutions and continuing with emergency support when needed. After five years, Hisaar Foundation carried out an extensive strategic review and settled on water as its main focus.
During its current phase the Foundation is a premier institution that provides a platform for bringing together issues of water, food and livelihood and seeks solutions relevant for the water-food-livelihood nexus in an integrated manner. It promotes Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and environmental conservation. It raises support from individuals and institutions, both in Pakistan and abroad and has set its course according to Pakistan’s needs. Since 2013, Hisaar Foundation has strengthened its think tank function and developed its strategic initiatives. Currently, it works through a Think Tank on the Rational Use of Water and Universities for Water Network to consolidate the intellectual underpinnings for dealing with Pakistan’s water challenges for the next hundred years. At the same time, it demonstrates solutions on the ground for many problems that have to be dealt with immediately.
In 2012 Hisaar Foundation received Certification from Pakistan Center for Philanthropy. The Foundation also has tax exemption approval Under Section 2(36) (c) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, (approval No. CIT/COS.V/2004-05/37).