Sadpara lake view © Zahoor Salmi / WWF-Pakistan

Water Security

The mighty Indus River spans four countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India); starting its journey from the Tibetan Plateau in Western China, cutting through the soaring Himalayas, traversing Pakistan and eventually flowing out into the Arabian Sea. The Indus Basin is the major freshwater reserve of Pakistan, aptly hailed as the lifeline of the country. It irrigates approximately 80% of Pakistan’s agricultural land and fulfils drinking needs of a population of 180 million. Not only that, the watershed is also home to a rich biodiversity.

With the passage of time, over-exploitation and climate change has taken its toll on the Indus Basin. The basin has become extremely water scarce and with the intrusion of salt water in the delta, much more saline. Riparian forests, instrumental in moderating the effects of climate change on river biota, have also been cut down and destroyed. According to an estimate, the basin has already lost 90% of its forest cover. Furthermore; changes in land use, ecosystem degradation and over-extraction by the agricultural sector has put an additional strain on the basin. As a consequence, the basin is expected to suffer severe water scarcity by 2025.
Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, WWF-Pakistan launched the Indus Basin Water Security project in 2007.


Environmental flows are protected in the Indus river resulting in near pristine ecosystem with flourishing flora and fauna species contributing towards economic and social development.


  • National water policy approved with environmental flows recognized. Authority defined for ensuring the implementation of recognized environmental flows. Time period: 3 years.
  • Acceptable environmental flows are implemented in the Indus river through improved water resources management. Time period: 10 years.
  • Environmental flows protected in the Indus river basin. Time period: 25 years.


In order to ensure acceptable environmental flows in the Indus Basin, WWF-Pakistan is engaged in advocating an improved water management framework and conducting an integrated risk analysis of the basin.

Development of Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) for Indus Basin Report:

In line with the aspirations of Indus Basin Security project, WWF-Pakistan launched a report entitled ‘Development of Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) for Indus Basin’. The report presents an analysis of water management in Pakistan. It was launched in January 2013 in a formal ceremony attended by officials from WWF-Pakistan, relevant Federal Ministries (climate change, water, FFC, IRSA, ICIMOD, WAPDA, MET) academics, multilateral donor organisations, embassy and the consulates’ staff.
The report is authored by veteran water specialists, Dr. Pervaiz Amir, Simi Kamal and Mr. Khalid Mohtadullah and establishes a case that the Indus Basin River System is currently vulnerable, therefore there is an urgent need to overhaul the water management framework of the country. The report presents a critical review of the institutional and legal framework for water resource allocation, analyzes the current status of agro-ecological cropping patterns and intensities within the Indus Basin and proposes befitting recommendations for an improved framework as an alternate National Water Policy.

Strategic Basin Assessment - Indus

WWF-Pakistan and Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia are collaborating to conduct a scoping study on the two eastern rivers of Pakistan, River Ravi and Sutlej. These rivers were allocated to India according to the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) 1960. WWF-Pakistan is assisting CSIRO in providing the secondary information through published literature from different departments and organizations regarding water quantity, quality, socio-economic trends and environmental impacts of River Ravi and Sutlej and their adjoining areas. The study aims to conclude with providing robust recommendations for the rivers and their catchment areas.

For more information on the report click on the link below: