A National Workshop on Irrigation Water Management was hosted by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives with the support of the Climate Adaptation and Resilience for South Asia (CARE) Project, which is funded by the World Bank and is being implemented by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC). Mr. Syed Fakhar Imam (Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research) and Mr. Jehanzeb Khan (Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan were the guests of honor for the workshop. Dr. Akmal Siddiq, Dr. Akhtar Ali, and Dr. Bakshal Khan Lashari presented during the workshop and led the breakout sessions. Water and policy experts from the federal government, provincial government, and key institutions took part in the workshop.
During the opening remarks, Dr. Hamid Jalil (Member Food Security & Climate Change, Planning Commission of Pakistan) highlighted the importance of irrigation water management. He also highlighted the importance of holding such workshops through which an action plan can be developed for water policy implementation.
After the opening remarks, Dr. Akmal Siddiq presented on the National Water Policy which was approved in 2018 but still lacks effective implementation. During his presentation, he provided a summary of progress, impediments, and recommendations on the way forward.
Dr. Akhtar Ali presented on Irrigation Water Management in Pakistan and how Pakistan's irrigation system and practices are beset with many serious issues. He presented on water conservation, efficiency, and equity and presented case studies of projects to demonstrate inappropriate infrastructure and project designs.
Dr. Bakshal Khan Lashari presented on Water Institutions in Pakistan and how these institutions lack development and capacity. He outlined the issues, summarizing the past and ongoing reforms and recommendations on the way forward.
In his keynote remarks, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of Pakistan, Mr. Jehanzeb Khan talked about the importance of holding consultative sessions like the National Workshop and its appropriate timing gave that PSDP preparation for 2022-23 is upcoming. He hoped that through the workshop, an action plan can be developed by all stakeholders to implement the water policy.
Talking about the National Water Policy, Mr. Jehanzeb Khan was of the view that the policy developed was comprehensive, which if implemented could bring about real change in the water sector in Pakistan. However, he lamented the fact that despite being approved in 2018, the policy had still not been implemented effectively.
The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission also spoke about how in Pakistan, a lot of work had been done on the water conveyance side however, serious efforts were lacking on the water management side.
In the concluding session, it was recommended that the water commission should be established, restructured, and strengthen the Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR), Established the Apex Organization for Transboundary Waters. There is a need to support and strengthen civil society organizations dealing with the water sector. Further, it was also recommended that the water financing mechanism should be improved and there is a lack of gender /women role is missing in developing National Water Policy, therefore water professional and gender experts should be the part of policy planning.
Mr. Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Ministry of National Food Security and Research has appreciated the efforts of the team, he highlighted the importance of afforestation as per PM vision. Further, he discussed the distribution of water, existing water policies and focused on economic growth. Finally, he appreciated the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives for organizing this workshop and ensuring that the recommendations of this workshop will be implemented in the future.
All the participants appreciated the MoPDSI for providing a platform through which all stakeholders in the water sector could develop an action plan.