This abstract is part of a series of five connected presentations related to the ACIAR LWR-2015-036 project
Pakistan ranks third among countries facing acute water shortage and could reach absolute water scarcity by 2025. Sindh, being the lower riparian province of Pakistan, is facing grave surface water shortages and problems of soil and groundwater salinity, exacerbated by mismanagement. Our four-year research project used a participatory case study approach to explore issues and options for improving groundwater management with water managers and users.
In Sindh, six villages were selected along the head, middle and tail of two case study canal distributary systems in Nawabshah and Naushehro Feroze districts. Groundwater use and quality varies considerably across the canal distributary system, undermining equity of access of water for irrigation. Social mapping, discussions with farmer groups and interviews with people with a stake in groundwater management led the participatory research approach. Stakeholder forums in each case study area were then established to enhance ongoing collaboration on research activities, including exchange of groundwater and agronomic information from community piezometers installed and mobile Apps provided. A novel cultivation model called N4veg is also being used to improve both water management and farming family livelihoods.
The participatory research confirmed that groundwater management issues vary with the location of farms along irrigation distributaries. At the tail of minor distributaries more than 90% of farmers depend on tube wells for irrigation and use mostly marginal quality (1500-2500 µS/cm) water. Groundwater depth is 30-60m contributing to higher pumping costs.
While there is a need to identify management strategies for more equitable distribution of water used for irrigation, including groundwater, there is also an immediate opportunity to use the Apna Pani mobile App, small cultivation planters and salinity meters as low cost interventions to improve irrigation farming practices among smallholder farmers unable to afford more expensive technologies.