WWF - Pakistan Freshwater Programme
Taking account of this alarming situation, WWF - Pakistan has initiated a comprehensive, consolidated, and integrated freshwater programme. This programme not only reflects the target driven approach that WWF-Pakistan’s conservation work now takes, but also establishes linkages of the freshwater work with the other five global priorities of WWF: forests, coastal and marine ecosystems, species, toxics and climate change.
OVERALL PROGRAMME VISION
‘To conserve and sustainably manage freshwater habitats in Pakistan to benefit nature and people’
The specific objective of the programme is to maintain biological diversity, ecological and hydrological processes in the Indus River Basin at the same time providing for sustainable use of freshwater resources, and for sustainable development opportunities for the region. This allows for the programme to look at both the `nature’ beneficiary angle i.e. the habitat and the environmental processes and to look at the people beneficiary angle. The latter allows for poverty reduction and enhancement of economic opportunities to be built into the programme without which the former cannot be conserved.
- Promote policies that mitigate the primary threats to the maintenance of biological diversity, ecological and hydrological processes in the Indus River Basin.
- Increase the sustainability of agricultural and industrial productive systems which impact on both water use and local livelihoods.
- Create and manage a network of protected areas (PA’s) in the Indus River Basin that effectively represents its diversity.
- Protect and restore viable populations of freshwater and related flagship species and their habitats.
- Promote environmental education initiatives in the area of freshwater conservation through local, regional, and national initiatives
PAKISTAN’S FRESHWATER: BACKGROUND, THREATS, ISSUES
Pakistan is no stranger to this alarming water crisis. The issues of water supply and quality, the conservation, protection of freshwater habitats are as urgent here as anywhere in the world. Pakistan, once a water-surplus country, is now a water deficit one… The situation in Pakistan indicates that the country is approaching conditions of chronic water-stress. The key issues related to this situation have been listed below
- the variability in rainfall levels and drought has devastating effects on agriculture, rangelands, wetlands and the concurrent human toll
- sea-water intrusion due to low flows below Kotri has resulted in ecosystem degradation in the Indus Delta
- reduction in reservoir capacity due to sedimentation – Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma are expected to lose 25% of their storage capacity by 2010
- increased domestic and industrial demands for water has put pressure on irrigation requirements that results in poor delivery efficiencies in the irrigation sector
- deterioration of water quality due to disposal of untreated urban sewage, individual effluent and agricultural drainage run off
- the population of the species, dependent on freshwater ecosystems, is threatened due to shrinking rivers and poor water quality
- depletion of groundwater due to overexploitation, and the resultant water logging and salinity
- Intrusion of salt water due to seepage from underlying salt aquifer