Experts gather to define climate resilient water management

ISLAMABAD   -   A diverse group of experts convened on Wednes­day for a groundbreaking consultation on community-led Climate Resilient Water Governance Models in Pakistan.

Hosted by the International Res­cue Committee and National Disaster Risk Management Fund, the consul­tation aimed to gather expert insights on enhancing resilient water govern­ance systems and policy reforms to tackle the challenges posed by extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.

Representatives from Sindh Agricul­ture University, Tandojam, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resourc­es, Member Planning Commission, Sus­tainable Development Policy Institute, ZIZak, USAID’s Higher Education Sys­tem Strengthening Activity, Natural Re­sources Division (NRD), Pakistan Agri­cultural Research Council (PARC) and civil society representatives attended the consultation.

Shabnam Baloch, Country Director, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Bilal Anwar, CEO of National Disas­ter Risk Management Fund (NDRMF), emphasised the importance of incor­porating the voice of local communi­ties into project designs and policy for­mulations. They stressed the need for active engagement, ensuring water rights awareness, and harnessing local wisdom and indigenous knowledge for project designs. 

Additionally, clear guidelines for en­gaging semi-urban/urban segments in water governance systems were dis­cussed, along with the challenges of scalability and gaps in planning of com­munity-driven initiatives.

Foster Financially Viable Solutions and addressing hill torrent and ur­ban flooding was one of the key dis­course drivers. The participants stressed the need for watershed management, focusing on water safe­ty, research and development, and evidence-based decisions for plan­ning and improvement.

The experts highlighted the scarcity of skills and technical persons to pro­mote market-oriented water manage­ment and the need for proper data for informed decision-making. They also emphasised the importance of docu­menting lessons from past experiences to draft future strategies and policies, as well as promoting private sector support for value addition in agricul­ture sectors in hill torrent areas.

Furthermore, the experts empha­sised the importance of community participation at all levels of policy for­mulation and implementation and ad­vocated for the revival of old tradition­al practices and indigenous knowledge. They called for a shift towards holistic climate-resilient policies embedding the flood management. 

The event ended on a unanimous agreement that policies and program need to be centred on fostering fi­nancially viable and market-orient­ed water management solutions at the grassroots level, emphasizing value ad­dition, competitive practices, service delivery standards, and balancing sup­ply with demand.

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