PRISE member organisation the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), in collaboration with the National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) – a Hi-AWARE partner organisation, led a panel discussion on ‘Migration, Water Management and Climate Change in Glacial River Basin and Semi-arid Regions in Pakistan: Key Linkages and Policy Options’, during the 20th Sustainable Development Conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, from December 5 to 7.
The session was attended by key stakeholders from SDPI and NARC – including representatives from the Pakistan Water Council, International Food Policy Research Institute, LEAD Pakistan, the Swiss Embassy, Iqra University, Fatima Jinnah Women University and the Urban Unit, an organisation working on urbanisation issues in Pakistan, participated at the session.
Shams-ul-Mulk, former Chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, said that institutions, as opposed to individuals, are key to resolving issues related to water management. Nisar Memon,, Former Information Minister for the Government of Pakistan, said that human security is at the core of water and migration issues.
“Weather-related human displacement in 2008 was around 20 million people, which interestingly outnumbered conflict -based displacement (4.6 million people) during the same year,” he added.
He also stressed on the need for the development of alternate livelihood opportunities in rural areas to better manage migration. Ayesha Qaisrani, PRISE research associate, drew on research she has carried out on rural-to-urban migration and climate change to add that rural women are among the most exposed to climate risks because they have limited resources and low mobility, which limits their capacity to manage climate risks. While sharing her research findings, she said that climate change is found to be a threat multiplier for migration and not a driver of migration.
While stressing on the need to enhance water storage capacity, Dr. Bashir Ahmed, from NARC, said that Pakistan has no other option to meet ever-increasing supply gaps than building medium and large reservoirs on urgent basis.
Participants proposed the following key policy recommendations:
- There is a need for better management of domestic migration instead of controlling it. Migration should be mainstreamed in national and local level development goals, planning and allocation of funds.
- Investment in human capital is required in the rural areas to promote rural livelihood development.
- There is an urgent need to work towards enhancing water storage capacity in Pakistan. The focus should be on developing medium and large reservoirs. This not only requires huge investments but also an enabling policy environment and political will.
- Public-private partnership for the promotion of efficient water technology in Pakistan would go a long way to bridging the gap between water supply and demand.
Photo by Amir Jina, Creative Commons License.