Work has been completed on SDPI’s collaboration with the World Bank Water project. Two SDPI Research Fellows produced the paper Pakistan’s Water Challenges: Human and Social Dimensions. It is forthcoming as a contribution in an Oxford University Press publication.
This paper reviews the human and social dimensions of Pakistan’s water policies to provide the basis for water-related policy interventions that contributes to the country’s human development, giving special attention to concerns of women and the poor. While Pakistan may not be a water-scarce country, nonetheless, water stress, poor water quality, and inequitable access to water adversely affect large portions of the population. Considerably less water is available in Balochistan and Sindh, in the tail end of the irrigation distribution system, and for the poor. Though women have a distinct role in water management both for domestic and productive purposes, they are hardly represented in user groups. This suggests that water management rather than water availability is at the core of Pakistan’s water crisis. The unequal distribution coupled with population pressure, urbanisation, and progressive industrialisation pose a serious challenge to water management in Pakistan in the 21st century. Already now, insufficient access to and poor quality of water resources is a major obstacle to human development in Pakistan.
SDPI identified the following recommendations as crucial for water interventions that may serve human development:
A genuinely participatory approach in water management including the voices of all stakeholders, in particular women and the poor;
A pro-active approach to tackle landed and bureaucratic power structures;
Capacity building in user groups and in the government agencies rather than investment in infrastructure alone;
Economic incentives, such as secure property rights, to improve access to water for the marginalized and more efficient use of the scarce resource;
Health implications of water-related interventions should be assessed before embarking on them;
Water conservation should be given priority over large storage projects. If they are constructed, environmental and social impact assessments should be conducted with true stakeholder participation.
Please contact Sarah Siddiq (firstname.lastname@example.org), Research and PEP Coordinator, for more details.