Oral Presentation NCGRT/IAH Australasian Groundwater Conference 2019

Supporting better management of groundwater in Pakistan: a collaborative approach (145)

Michael Mitchell 1 , Catherine A. Allan 1 , Saira Akhtar 2 , Syed Khair 3 , Tehmina Mangan 4 , Kanza Javad 5
  1. Charles Sturt University, Albury, NSW, Australia
  2. Department of Rural Sociology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan
  3. Balochistan University of Information, Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan
  4. Sindh Agricultural University, Tando Jam, Sindh, Pakistan
  5. Ecoseal Pty Ltd, Islamabad, Pakistan

NOTE: This abstract is for the first in a series of five connected presentations related to the ACIAR LWR-2015-036 project

Like Australia, Pakistan is a country of droughts and flooding rains. Pakistan is among the top ten countries most severely impacted by climate change, and is expected to be declared water scarce by 2025. The Indus Basin irrigation system no longer provides enough supply for Pakistan’s agricultural needs, meaning farmers increasingly rely on groundwater. The Australian government is supporting a four-year research project to provide Pakistan’s irrigation managers with strategies to improve groundwater management and farming family livelihoods. We present a series of case studies from this project to demonstrate benefits of a collaborative approach.

The project used participatory rural appraisals to develop a shared understanding of problems associated with groundwater use in each case study area, and to build a network of stakeholders responsible to identify and deliver on changes needed. Stakeholder forums were established to enable co-design of subsequent research activities.

Loggers have been installed to enable automated supply of groundwater depth and salinity data for modelling purposes. Irrigation departments are acquiring the capacity to build and use groundwater models. By establishing and engaging stakeholder forums, local-level farming organisations and others are determining how to access and benefit from information created by improved groundwater monitoring and modelling. This includes the development of mobile Apps made available to farming families, and the analysis of socio-economic data to investigate benefits of changed farming practices.

Adoption of a collaborative approach is crucial for practice change. It allows farming families to understand why and how they can improve their use of groundwater. More importantly, the practices of irrigation department officials and agriculture extension agents are also changing, with greater appreciation for improving groundwater management through collaboration, rather than relying on regulation alone.