Experts call for resolving water stress for sustainable future

Author: APP

Experts at a two-day workshop titled Pakistan: United for Shared Responsibility on Monday said that the country was a water stress nation that needed to address its growing water issues for a sustainable future on priority.

The workshop was organised by Faith For Our Planet (FFOP) in cooperation with Iqbal International Institute of Research and Dialogue of IIUI, RSPN, and ifees.ecoislam.

The event has also convened some of Pakistan’s major environmental minds to interact with the nation’s religious leadership to explore practical roles the country’s religious institutions can play in addressing the region’s burgeoning climate challenges. The event stands a unique forum designed to facilitate a much needed collaboration between scientific and religious leadership attended by faith and community leaders from across South Asia, including Sunni, Shia, minority Hindu and Sikh leaders from across Pakistan and beyond.

The panel discussion on the first day on ‘From Indus to the Himalayas: The future of Food, Water and Weather’ was moderated by senior environmental journalist and climate activist Dr Afia Salam who said that bulging population boom was the elephant in the room causing stress on the earth and its resources. The WWF-Pakistan Director Governance and Policy Dr Imran Khalid said that water stress and lack of access to clean drinking water was equally damaging and impacting all factions of the society. “Only one percent of waste water is treated in Pakistan which is almost 100% in the US”. He added that the Nullah Lai passing between the twin cities Rawalpindi and Islamabad had become a waste water conduit which could be fixed by the masses and stakeholders through collective approach as it had been a clean water reservoir in the past.

“There is a need to approach communities that are most affected due to climate change. We have to learn from the communities facing issues in the real time. We have to rely on indigenous practices in rural areas. Water scarcity lies in poor water governance in Pakistan,” he suggested.

Dr Saqib mentioned that the WWF was trying to recycle ablution water in mosques as a pilot model. He added that there was a need to start water education at different tiers to conserve water. Dr Zaigham Habib, water and hydrology expert, said that as a Himalayan country, the region was the most affected as low riparian country.

“Every second house in ICT has a water pump where the ground water is depleting fast. Vapour transportation has increased and more than beneficial level,” she warned.

Capitalism, she said, was developing in Asia as the maximum carbon production was in India and others, where Pakistan had become their dumping site.

“There is less information of water availability at higher level of the policy making cohort that needs to be improved. At the governance level we lack proper map showing climate change interaction with different sectors,” she noted. Dr Zaigham said that the rural areas lacked sanitation and drainage system – something that needed to be addressed for sustainable development. “We are among water stress nations which would increase with the passage of time,” she said. Program Director for Islamic Organization for Food Security Dr. Ismail Abdelhamid said that 75% of the world’s fresh water was utilized by the agriculture sector.

“The challenge for us is to not only preserve our water but also to educate the people to conserve water. Egypt is an agricultural country facing serious impacts of climate change,” he added.

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