HYDERABAD: (March 22, 2016) Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam celebrated World Water Day under the theme “Better water, Better jobs” with a large number of peasant women, farmers, fishermen, economists, researchers, academia and representatives of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation on Tuesday at the university premises.
The recommendations designed during the speeches emphasised the need to save water resources, which provide livelihoods to majority of agriculture workforce, fishermen and livestock holders in rural areas of Sindh. These people are facing threats of losing traditional sources of livelihoods due to scarcity of water in their areas.
The speakers realised the fact that there is surplus water but unequal distribution of water created problems and people, specially those residing at tail end areas are crying for water. For example, they said marine and inland water bodies used to provide sources of income to hundreds of fishermen families, but now these waters are being degraded, forcing these people to migrate in search of livelihoods.
The SAU organised the event in collaboration with International Labour Organisation (ILO), in which officials of FAO and UN Women also participated.
SAU Vice Chancellor Dr Mujeebuddin Memon Sehrai, Prof M Saffar Mirjat, Abid Niaz of ILO, author Zulfiqar Halepoto, Sndh Irrigation Drainage Authority General Manager Nazir Essani, Wapda General Manager Irshad Bohio, farmers Nadim Shah Jamot, Mir Zaffarullah Talpur, Research and Development Foundation (RDF) Programme Head Ashfaq Soomro, Prof Ismail Kumhar, Javeria Jabeen of DevCon, Fida Soomro of Laar Humanitarian Development Programme (LHDP) and others spoke on the occasion.
VC Mujeebuddin Memon Sehrai claims to have taken responsibility to conduct research through new cadre of the university to see how the economic loss is affecting the resources in rural Sindh and finding suggestions to provide support material for understanding of the provincial government. He said there is need to educate youth about the issue of water.
The VC said human security is looking main issue nowadays and people are living under the shadow of guns. But these elite people should realise that food security and water security are main issues, which should be taken at major forums of assemblies and resolve through formulation of policy.
Obviously, he said, “there is not only Thar desert where people are dying of water scarcity or contamination of water sources, we should take it seriously that our own future generations could be saved through such mechanism and policy cover, because we are taking contamination water at homes.”
Zulfiqar Halepoto said Pakistan’s economy depend on water sector labour and jobs. In Sindh small scale farmers and fishermen do not have stake on water policy or legislation. Hence, they must be consulted while making policies or taking steps for launching water projects. This can be a way to protect livelihoods of agriculture workers and fishermen. He said it is governance problem, water and jobs should be linked with life and livelihoods. He called academia to be vigilant and should influence on policy making and formations for future challenges, as being experienced in the world, where universities are playing major role in this connection.
The speakers pointed out that water shortage in Sindh resulting in economic, social, and ecological problem is moving towards an ecological disaster and famine like situation. Therefore, water policies, keeping in mind fair Indus river system should be developed and monitor the excessive mining of ground water.
They urged the government to develop policy and ensure its implementation mechanism for agricultural development, focusing on national attention on water security, food security, climate change, job marketing for youth and income generation for the rural population.
They said women participation be ensured in development and planning of agriculture, water, job related programmes at all levels to alleviate poverty. The recommendations further suggested to build a knowledge base for managing one of the world’s most complex Indus Basin Irrigation Water System and also for ground water management. In their understanding the knowledge base should focus on developing an understanding of the potential and a mechanism for concurrent management of groundwater in the Indus system looking at groundwater flows, salinity, and groundwater movement.
They proposed to increase investment in the protection of infrastructure and disaster risk reduction (DRR) interventions to minimize the losses from disasters. Increasing joblessness at the behest of Sea intrusion will be addressed through a twin pack approach-1)- increasing the efficiency of Indus river system for a sustainable and consistent flow of water in the river stream. 2) – Providing alternate and off-farm livelihood options for the affected populations.
They called for availability of clean drinking water for household consumption of rural and urban populace.
Groundwater resources will be re-charged, protected from contamination, properly priced and distributed thus creating jobs and improving the service delivery in the water sector.
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