Leading international and national experts on water will share their views, findings and studies at the Third Karachi International Water Conference to be held here on November 21-22, 2017. This was announced by Zohair Ashir chairman of the Hisaar Foundation and Aman ul Haque Head of Engro Foundation while speaking at a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.
“Pakistan’s water situation is so alarming that we need to jolt the government and ourselves into immediate corrective action on an urgent basis,” Zohair Ashir said. Pakistan is already classified as a water stressed country. Some experts and studies forecast that Pakistan will face severe droughts in the near future, much like Ethiopia in the 1970s.
Today Pakistan’s stored water supply is barely adequate to meet its needs; the current storage will last only for 30 days. By contrast, “carryover capacity” in other countries ranges from 200 days in India to 1,000 days in Egypt. Pakistan needs a minimum storage capacity of 40 percent of around 115 million acre-feet of water available in the Indus river system throughout the year. But the country’s storage capacity is only 7 percent and is decreasing due to sediment build-up in reservoirs.
The 16 million people don’t have access to safe water, 68 million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation and approximately 41,000 children die each year in Pakistan due to unsafe water and poor sanitation. “Since we are an agri-economy, 97 percent of our available water is consumed by agriculture which leaves barely 3 percent for domestic use. This imbalance has caused severe problems and will continue to be a source of serious threat unless we employ smart agriculture practices and shift to more scientific use of water for cropping and farming.”
Zohair Ashir gave a briefing on urgency of holding this dialogue which brings all the major stakeholders – government, academia, private and business sector, media, donors, NGOs and citizens of Pakistan on a single platform to build a consensus for a collective action plan. He highlighted the four major themes of the conference – rights and entitlements, science and technology, climate change and water economy. He also stated that it is a rare occasion that the leading international experts and organizations of water have come to Pakistan in recent times, this being one of largest international water conference in the county.
He said among the leading figures who will attend this conference will be Dr David Grey visiting professor of Water Policy at University of Oxford, Dr Salman Shah Former Finance Minister, Rudolph Cleveringa executive secretary Global Water Partnership, Dr Claudia Sadoff Director-General IWMI, Dr Marianne Kjellen senior water advisor UNDP, Dr Ishrat Hussain former dean of the Institute of Business Administration, Khalid Mohtadullah senior advisor to ICIMOD, Lt. Gen. Muzammil Hussain Chairman WAPDA, Simi Kamal Geographer and Water Specialist and many other prominent figures from the business world and civil society will present their views. Several hundred delegates are expected to participate at the conference, mostly from Pakistan but also from South Asia and across the globe.
Aman ul Haque head of Engro Foundation reiterated the importance of the water crisis. He said that water is a very important issue for Engro and should be for everyone. He urged the audience to show their support to the conference and spread the word.