Institutional reforms in the water sector of Pakistan

Abro, Altaf A., author
Davis, Ralph K., author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher
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Water is becoming increasingly scarce all over the world. Indicators of water availability show that per capita supplies will continue to decline in the years ahead. The situation for Pakistan is even more critical as irrigated agriculture plays a very vital role in Pakistan's economy; the sector accounts for 24.5% of country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employs 55% of the labor force and accounts for 80% of the total export earnings of the country. Unlike population, water availability per capita is persistently decreasing in Pakistan, which would presumably affect food sufficiency for the projected population of 250 million in year 2025. Scarcity of irrigation water is a main concern for policy makers and planners in Pakistan. Prospects for increasing water supplies through construction of new storage reservoirs are not encouraging, as development of water resources has approached its limit. Construction of new reservoirs may not be economically, nor environmentally realistic for Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan needs to explore alternative solutions to meet the increasing demand for water. This paper is based on the proposition that water scarcity results from ineffective and inefficient water resources management in Pakistan, which is partially due to the inadequacies of regulatory and planning structure, and slow implementation response to the proposed changes in institutional structure. Water institutions and water management are undergoing enormous changes world wide. It is assumed that the government of Pakistan will not be able to manage water resources efficiently without removing impediments to planning and management as part of this reform process. This paper describes the reform process, and the ensuing institutional change sought by the reforms in the irrigation sector of Pakistan.
Presented at Ground water and surface water under stress: competition, interaction, solutions: a USCID water management conference on October 25-28, 2006 in Boise, Idaho.
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