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March 21, 2019

‘Start saving water as countdown is on and every drop counts’


March 21, 2019

HYDERABAD: With the worldwide water reservoirs seen depleting fast down the line, communities, residing in rural and urban areas of the country, especially Sindh, will have to use this precious resource sustainably to conserve it for the generations to come, experts said on Wednesday.

This consensus was reached at a discussion held in connection with World Water Day 2019 at the office of Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA).

The programme, themed “Leaving no one behind, water for all”, was organised by Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) in collaboration with Oxfam Pakistan.

The event saw participation of a large number of women, hailing from Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, and Hyderabad. These people in those communities depend on perennial Akram Canal, which presently is not getting its share of 4100 cusecs of water, causing uncertainty among locals.

Addressing the event, Shahid Khan, an Oxfam representative, shed light on the status of water in Pakistan, linking it with human life, agriculture, livestock and overall ecosystem.

Khan said there may be more shortage of water in future, thus communities should use it sparingly to avoid any crisis in coming days.

Saying that only community people, farmers and herders, could realise the difficulties of water scarcity in their villages, he urged for collaborative efforts to deal with the issue and manage it at every level.

He said there were many institutions, which are working for management, and sustainable use of water; however the objective of their project was to work with communities, especially women and marginalised people, who depend on agriculture and need water.

“We want to ensure participation of community women. We have to take up the issue at policy level,” he said.

Muhammad Ali Nizamani, a researcher associated with Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET), who just recently conducted a study on Akram Canal command area, shared findings to show water governance, supply and demand, perception of farmers and gender empowerment.

Nizamani said, "Water scarcity issue exists and we have to resolve it together".

“We have to adapt modern technology to manage water to increase crops productivity. There are some countries at global map, which do not have natural water resources but they are surviving by cultivating crops in their barren and desertified lands.”

Nasreen Vighio, a woman peasant from village Jaro Babar, Hyderabad district, said they had lost fertile lands due to persistent water scarcity. Vighio held certain influential landlords responsible for this and accused them of being discriminatory towards poor farmers, depriving them of their share of water, and making them vulnerable to hardships.

Zulfiqar Halepoto, a researcher, water advocate and expert, said it was time the entire global nations became concerned over water scarcity and depleting water resources.

“We in Pakistan's Sindh province must work together to face challenges and it was not only the responsibility of government to take decisions or certain departments do everything but all the people have to play their role, because we all are stakeholders in terms of water usage,” Halepoto said.

Abdul Basit Soomro, chairman SIDA, said the authority had planned to arrange awareness sessions at village-level to stop wastage of water at domestic level.

“Women can play role in this situation,” he said.

Talking about the recent crisis of water in Badin district and protests of people, the Soomro

said they had removed illegal pipes which were being used for water theft, while first information reports (FIRs) had been lodged against certain violators.

Tanzeela Qambrani, a provincial lawmaker, said Sindh was the tail-end area in river Indus system.

The Sindh Assembly Member belongs to Badin district, where she has witnessed the sea intrusion, taking fertile land due to not receiving fresh water through the river.

Qambrani said the sea was the ultimate end of the river Indus in Indus delta, which needs water to be saved from further intrusion. She also assured to take up the issue of legislation at Sindh Assembly to ensure role of women in water management bodies.

Pirbho Satiani, regional head of SPO Hyderabad, briefed about the coordination with stakeholders, including community women, who led the process in their areas. Appreciating the role of women, Satiani said they must be engaged in water management bodies.

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