Lahore, March 09, 2015 (PPI-OT): Terming climate change as a key priority for the Indus water resources, Federal Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, has called upon all riparian countries to come together and identify common solutions to the common problems of the Indus Basin.
The Minister said that Pakistan is moving towards being a water scarce country from being water-stressed. In order to cope with the situation, the government is making a comprehensive plan and WAPDA is working on various water sector projects to increase the water storage capacity of the country, he said.
The Minister was speaking at the inaugural session of the WAPDA-sponsored Indus Forum meeting, in Lahore, on Monday. Underlining the need for joint action, the Minister said “the nature of our challenges requires collective response and pooling of our intellectual resources to chart out a way out of these problems”.
The Indus Forum, constituted in 2012, includes participation from Pakistan, India, China and Afghanistan. This meeting was jointly organized by the Water and Environment Forum (WEF) of Pakistan and WAPDA. The objective of the meeting is to understand the impact of Climate Change and vulnerability of the Indus Water Resources and consequently impact on the lives of the 300 million people who depend on it.
Addressing the meeting, Chairman WAPDA Zafar Mahmood outlined the reasons for the current water scarcity in Pakistan and said the simultaneous effects of climate change and population growth make the problem even more complex. He said that Pakistan is blessed with water resources of 145 Million Acre Feet per annum on an average and the country has, so far, developed a live storage capacity of 10% of annual flows of its rivers, which is far below the world average of 40%.
Throwing light on impact of climate change on water resources, Chairman WAPDA said that water flows from melting of glaciers will increase first before registering reduction. He said that increasing frequency of extreme weather phenomenon such as floods, tropical storms or droughts are also creating pressure on scarce water supplies of the country.
Former senator Nisar Memon, who heads WEF Pakistan, said “the Indus Forum will try to identify strategic opportunities for collaborative actions for on-the-ground results; as well as work with national governments in the area of water resources management and trans-boundary cooperation”.
Stressing on the link between climate change and poverty World Bank’s Pakistan Country Director Rachid Ben Messaoud said that “tackling climate change lies at the heart of World Bank Group’s strategic engagement and holds great relevance for our twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity”. “The World Bank recognizes that if we do not confront climate change, we will not end poverty”, he added.
Over the next 2 days, the forum will work on identifying research opportunities that will contribute to the creation of a robust knowledge base on climate change impact in the Indus basin; and also innovative strategies to strengthen the adaptive capacity of countries to deal with potential floods and droughts.
For more information, contact:
Muhammad Abid Rana
Director Public Relations
Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA)
G-32, WAPDA House, Lahore