Friday August 12, 2022

Steps to overcome water, food, energy crisis stressed

By Our Correspondent
May 17, 2022

LAHORE:Experts at a workshop have stressed the need to overcome water, energy and food crisis and explore how ecosystem transformation for equitable food, energy and water security in Indus Basin can be achieved.

The workshop was organised by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan. The workshop’s title was “NEXUS Gains for the Indus Basin: Realising Multiple Benefits Across Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems (Forests, Biodiversity)”.

The workshop was organised in collaboration with Khwaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology (KFUEIT) and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Officials from the private sector, Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC), progressive farmers, Punjab Irrigation Department, Punjab government’s On Farm Water Management (OFWM) Department and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) participated in the workshop.

The participants held discussions on reaching a common understanding and finding local solutions to the challenges facing water, energy, food and ecosystem transformation while exploring how the system transformation for equitable food, energy and water security in Indus Basin can be achieved.

Dr Mohsin Hafeez, Country Representative – Pakistan and Regional Representative – Central Asia, IWMI and Dr Stefan Uhlenbrook, Strategic Programme Director (IWMI) – Water, Food and Ecosystems (WEFE) shared presentations on the significance of WEFE NEXUS approach in Pakistan in the wake of climate change. In his welcome address, Vice Chancellor, KFUEIT, Prof Dr Muhammad Suleman Tahir said that it is the responsibility of universities to offer solutions to the problems regarding local agriculture and industry.

“As the water scarcity challenge in Cholistan is rising, we have launched the ‘Save Water for Cholistan’ campaign from this university platform,” he said. According to Dr Mohsin Hafeez, “There is an ongoing heatwave in Southern Punjab and Sindh, which is having implications on the availability of canal water and is impacting agriculture. There is a need to assess temperature rise in northern Pakistan and its repercussions on glaciers, which significantly contribute to the Indus River.”

Regarding the NEXUS Gains Initiative, he said that the initiative will provide practical, scientific evidence-based solutions and decision support system for WEFE resource by strengthening capacity of national stakeholders and key actors working in the region. The project outcome will lead to more coherent policies in the WEFE nexus, enable sustainable development pathways for all, and ensure that the policy changes are robust and resilient.

Addressing the workshop, Dr Stefan Uhlenbrook said that the WEFE initiative is being implemented across Pakistan, Ethiopia, India, and Nepal, which aims to sensitize stakeholders to use integrated modeling tools to assess tradeoffs and synergies, improving water productivity, use of scalable gender-sensitive clean energy business and finance models, and training of 40 emerging women leaders in implementing WEFE NEXUS innovations.

Dr Stefan Uhlenbrook stressed, “It is often the women, girls and vulnerable groups who face the great adverse consequences from non-integrated approaches of WEFE management. All members of society and the economy at large will benefit from implementing NEXUS approach including the environment.”

The workshop participants shared their feedback on ways to promote and institutionalise the WEFE NEXUS approach and identify potential activities within the framework of the NEXUS Gains Initiative in the Indus Basin. The field office of IWMI Pakistan in the premises of KFUEIT, Rahim Yar Khan, was also inaugurated by IWMI and KFUEIT team. Later, a solar plant donated by IWMI and Centre for Water, Land and Ecosystem was inaugurated at the university. IWMI and KFUEIT’s team also visited a pumping site of SCARP and different sites in Cholistan desert.