Concept Note on Water Conservation in Pakistan

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Water is the most precious natural resource in the world. Without it, there would be no life on Earth. Unfortunately, water is becoming scarce, and various factors are leading to water scarcity in Pakistan. According to a recent report of world economic forum, water crisis is the number one global risk particularly in Pakistan the situation is alarming despite having the world's largest glacial resources is facing the prospect of water crisis. The geographic location of Pakistan places the country in the heat surplus zone on Earth, putting it high on the vulnerability scale of climate change with a considerable increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and erratic monsoon rains, as demonstrated by the unprecedented floods of 2010. Freshwater is a finite resource, is progressively becoming scarcer due to persistent increases in its competing demands. The expected demand and supply imbalance is creating challenges on the domestic, agricultural and industrial level as Pakistan’s water availability is highly relied upon Indus Basin.

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According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage. In 2016, PCRWR reported that Pakistan touched the 'water stress line' in 1990 and crossed the 'water scarcity line' in 2005. According to an article in the Daily Tribune newspaper in June 2019, water availability could reduce to 860 cubic meters per capita without mitigation measures. Pakistan is placed 23 on the World Resources Institute’s ranking of water-stressed countries. Freshwater resources in Pakistan are dependent on snow and glacier melt, and monsoon rains both highly sensitive to climate change. Under future climate change scenarios, Pakistan is expected to experience increased variability of river flows due to increased variability of precipitation and the melting of glaciers. It could increase the demand for irrigation water and reduce the availability of water from open sources as evaporation increases. Groundwater, which is depleting, provides the bulk of drinking water to humans. The water availability for hydropower generation may decline.


To understand the issues and manage water resources to mitigate hazards such as flood, drought, intense heat waves, and food security.

  • To build the capacity of relevant departments, community people and stakeholders in water conservation techniques.
  • To introduce innovative water-saving and water using techniques.
  • To assess water resources, watershed management practices, issues, challenges and its impact on socio-ecosystems.
  • To understand the critical implementation issues and requirements in the context of Pakistan.


The project will help to improve the existing policy and institutional arrangements of water resource management and development, which are currently ineffective. Some of the critical areas would be:

  • Build institutional and professional capacities of the water management authorities and local communities living around watershed areas.
  • Improve the local policy and legal framework.
  • Conduct assessment of the effects of climatic variation on water resources, especially glaciers, rainfall and snowfall.
  • Initiate participatory and bottom-up approach and ensure the involvement of water users in policy development and management.
  • Improve the maintenance and management of existing water management systems and demonstrate water harvesting and conservation practices as pilot, replicable projects.
  • Promote small and medium-size localized water reservoirs in major watershed areas which has multiple functions; irrigation, hydropower, silt-controlling.
  • The project will use a mix of awareness-raising, training, and guidance to ensure that water is not wasted or misused.
  • Tariff reforms are critical to ensure sustainable water use as canal water is massively underpriced.
  • Construction of retaining walls and embankments.
  • Installation of an effective flood early warning system.
  • Avalanche Conservation for agriculture practices through pilot study will be held in 1-2 villages in the project area. The experiment would be done with cheaper materials.
  • Formation and formulation of water user committees.
  • Introduction of scientific techniques and technology of glaciers grafting in collaboration with AKRSP, government line departments, research and academia.
  • Conduct scientific assessment of glaciers farming /glaciers grafting.
  • Develop the training manuals and guidelines in local language for use by project beneficiaries

Expected Outcomes

  • Increased adaptive capacity within the water sector at the community level and the district level.
  • Strengthen the awareness of flood, water risks and impacts and how to address these at the community level.
  • Strengthened capacities of government line department staff, project men and women beneficiaries and stakeholders at provincial and district levels.
  • Improved policies and plans in place to respond to water scarcity and climate change risks and impacts.
  • Developed guidelines and operational manual on maintenance and use of water resources in local languages.
  • Functional water user committees at the community level are established.
  • Water harvesting initiatives, structures and facilities are in place.
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