Friday, January 27, 2017

Today, Hisaar Foundation launched the Recommendations of Pakistan’s National Water Policy Framework for the consideration of the government at Islamabad Serena Hotel. This is a culmination of two years of consultations which included discussion sessions with various water stakeholders across the spectrum as well as two international water conferences that focused on water cooperation and water security. The recommendations are part of the first report of the Think Tank on Rational Use of Water. The recommendations focus on five main areas for further action. These include improving water access for the poor and landless, financing the urban and rural water value chain, safeguarding the Indus Basin and its infrastructure, improving water institutions and their management and governance and finally building a base for science, technology and social aspects of water.

The policy framework was presented by Simi Kamal, Convener, Think Tank on Rational Use of Water. The panel was moderated by the effervescent Dr. Daanish Mustafa from King’s College, London and the panelists included notable personalities such as, Dr. Salman Shah, former Finance Minister who spoke of the importance of the water economy and inaction of the government in developing a water policy, Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund who reiterated the urgency of the water crisis and highlighted the importance of investing in the people and not just infrastructure. Mr. Jamal Ansari, CEO Akbar Associates Group stated that water is a most undervalued resource and emphasized the lack of focus on groundwater management and quality. Ms. Seema Taher Khan CEO News One and TV One presented the way forward and outlined the plan of action and implementation at all levels. The Chief Guest, Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting highlighted the importance of awareness of ownership at all levels and invited Hisaar Foundation to the Standing Committee on SDG’s to present the policy framework to the government. Mr. Istvan Kovacs, Commercial Counselor also addressed the audience and highlighted the importance of water cooperation with countries like Australia and Hungary.

The goals of the recommendations for Pakistan’s national water policy framework call for extending irrigation system to arid districts of Pakistan. It also calls for creating new storages and enhancing existing storages at different levels. The policy framework calls for improvement in water efficiency by 10 percent. It also calls for increasing productivity in agriculture. The policy framework recommends preserving, repairing and maintaining the existing water infrastructure. It also calls for a reversal in abiyana to realize the true value of water. The policy framework calls for control in groundwater withdrawals as well as generation of additional indigenous hydropower. The recommendations also call for increased coordination between water, agriculture and industry for maximum benefits. Finally it calls for making investment in water infrastructure and hydropower a core part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Over 120 participants attended the launch event which included stakeholders of the water sector, academia, business community, media etc.