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Water Management // Pakistan is fortunate enough because its soils, topography and climate are generally suitable for farming

Pakistan is fortunate enough because its soils, topography and climate are generally suitable for farming but its agriculture sector faces the problem of scarcity of the irrigation water. This paucity of irrigation supplies has forced the farmers to use the groundwater to augment their surface supplies. The quality of groundwater in Pakistan varies from fit for irrigation to moderately saline to sodic. Thus the tubewell owners in the marginal quality groundwater areas are bound to use the tubewell water in conjunction with the surface water on their farms. Currently the farmers are using about 65.75 BCM of groundwater in Pakistan (Halcrow, 2002). Pakistan has been blessed with a rich water resource which has driven, mainly through agriculture, the economic development of the country. Pakistan has a long and proud history of the development of water resources and the infrastructure for delivering water to where it is needed, including the vast Indus Plain, constituting the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world.

As the population continues to grow the country is approaching the utilization limits of its water resources and Pakistan is becoming a water scarce country. As never before, there is now a strong and growing need to manage this precious resource more carefully and efficiently to ensure water for all on a sustainable basis.

In recognition of this need, the Government of Pakistan, with the support of the Asian Development Bank, instituted the Water Resources Strategy Study. It was undertaken by the Ministry of Water and Power, Office of the Chief Engineering Advisor/Chairman Federal Flood Commission. The Study began in July 2001 with the main objective of preparing a road map for future development of the water sector toward more efficient service delivery and optimum utilisation of resources to meet the competing demands of all water users in the future.

The Government has addressed the issue of developing the water sector through several initiatives, including the Ten Year Perspective Plan (Planning Commission, 2001), Vision 2025 (Water and Power Development Authority, 2001) and the National Water Policy (Ministry of Water and Power, Draft, 2002). Now the Pakistan Water Sector Strategy Study provides a road map for the future development of the sector.

The end product of the Study comprises three main documents which are referred to in total as the Pakistan Water Sector Strategy. These are:

1. The National Water Sector Profile (NWSP), which summarises and details all aspects of the Water availability and utilisation as they exist today. As such, it will become a standard source document for future water sector work.

2. The National Water Sector Strateqy (NWSS). which identifies the key issues and objectives for the water sector and proposals for planning, development and management of water resources and their use in all water sub-sectors.

3. The Medium Term Investment Plan (MTIP), which identifies the key programmes and projects which should be undertaken up to 2011 which will make the initial contribution to achieve the objectives of the Strategy.

This is a document for the whole of the water sector, in all its sub-sectors of: Water Resources Development, Urban Water Supply and Sanitation, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Industrial Water Supply and Pollution Control, Irrigation and Drainage, Hydropower, the Environment and Flood Protection.

As 95% of our water resources are used for agricultural purposes, the role of the agriculture sector is also discussed extensively, with recommendations and a proposed strategy for a closer relationship with the water sector.

The Strategy and MTIP emphasize institutional, management and financial matters as well as infrastructure. It prioritizes equity in water allocation, improving and maintaining the quality of water, the conservation of the country's water resources and the need for efficiency and financial sustainability in water service delivery. It promotes an integrated approach to water sector development and participation of all stakeholders in decision-making.

This is a collaborative document. The study adopted a participatory approach to ensure that all stakeholders of water have been consulted and have contributed to this Strategy and MTIP. Working Groups from each province and at the federal level were formed at the start of the Study and have been closely associated with the development of the work throughout. Four National Workshops were held to broaden the scope of stakeholder consultation, bringing people together from all areas to contribute to the Strategy document.

The effective implementation of the Pakistan National Water Sector Strategy and its accompanying Medium Term Investment Plan is paramount to the continued development of Pakistan's water sector and economy well into the 21st century.

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