ISLAMABAD (APP): A national consultative workshop on Water Accounting and Water Resources Assessment Standards to support the implementation of the National Water Policy (NWP) and to develop an inventory of water availability in the country held.

According to a press release issued here on Thursday, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan organized the workshop to bring together key stakeholders, including federal and provincial government officials, policymakers, water experts, and practitioners, to discuss and deliberate on the importance of Water Accounting and its implications for sustainable water management.

Dr Mohsin Hafeez, Country Representative – Pakistan and Regional Representative – Central Asia, IWMI, welcomed the stakeholders and informed that IWMI Pakistan has initiated Water Accounting and water resources assessment under the WRAP Programme Component 1: CRS-IWaG.

“IWMI Pakistan is developing national Water Accounting standards through consultation with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), provincial agencies (Irrigation and On Farm Water Management), and academia, Dr Mohsin added.

IWMI Pakistan will develop Water Accounting standards and guidelines that should provide an agreed methodology for getting comprehensive information on water availability (surface, groundwater and rainfall) and their associated usage (domestic, industrial, agriculture and environment) across the Indus Basin, he continued.

There is limited information on water availability from surface, groundwater, and rainwater sources while each province has developed its own methods of monitoring and measurement of water resources but there is no consistent approach.

The adoption of international standards can help develop a unified approach, which will yield accurate information regarding water availability, Mohsin suggested.

Engr. Ahmad Kamal, Chairman Federal Flood Commission presented an overview of challenges and opportunities in the Indus Basin with regard to water resources management.

According to him, “Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable countries to climate change and over the last 30 years, we have been ranked amongst the top 10 climate-vulnerable countries.

There is no groundwater regulatory framework, and anyone can extract as much groundwater as they want, which is leading to fast depletion of groundwater sources across Pakistan.”

A presentation on harnessing the potential of Water Accounting for sustainable water management was delivered by Dr. Umar Waqas Liaqat, Researcher – Irrigation, IWMI.

“The Water Accounting approach can be implemented at the national level. It offers many benefits, as it promotes Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), says Dr. Umar.

Presentations on water accounts at the provincial level were given by senior officials from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, and AJK.

A focus group discussion with the participants on Water Accounting challenges and gaps was also organized to solicit views on how to develop a comprehensive national-level Water Accounting system and capacity building of national institutions.

Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman of the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), in his closing remarks said that water accounting is one of the most important aspects of water resources, in fact, it is the foundation of water resources management.

All decisions are based on water availability, demand, accessibility, and usage. For equitable distribution of water within and across the sector Water Accounting is important, he reiterated.

Currently, provinces and different organizations are working on Water Accounting but in solos and should integrate their efforts to improve coordination using a standardized approach, he stressed.

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