Pakistan needs to address surging water stress for sustainable future: Experts

WWF-Pakistan Director Governance and Policy Dr Imran Khalid said water stress and access to clean drinking water was equally damaging and impacting all factions of the society.

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Islamabad (VOM) : The experts at a two-day conference titled Pakistan: United for Shared Responsibility said the country was a water stress nation that needed to address it’s growing water issues for a sustainable future on priority.

The two-day workshop was organised by Faith For Our Planet (FFOP) in cooperation with Iqbal International Institute of Research and Dialogue of IIUI, RSPN, and ifees.ecoislam. The event has also convened some of Pakistan’s major environmental minds to interact with the nation’s religious leadership to exploring practical roles the

country’s religious institutions can play in addressing the region’s burgeoning climate challenges.

The event stands a unique forum designed to facilitate a much needed collaboration between scientific and religious leadership attended by faith and community leaders from across South Asia including Sunni, Shia, minority Hindu and Sikh leaders from across Pakistan and beyond.

The panel discussion on from Indus to the Himalayas: The future of Food, Water and Weather was Moderated by senior Environmental Journalist and Climate activist Dr Afia Salam who said that bulging population boom was the elephant in the room causing stress on the earth and it’s resources.

WWF-Pakistan Director Governance and Policy Dr Imran Khalid said water stress and access to clean drinking water was equally damaging and impacting all factions of the society.

“Only one percent of waste water is treated in Pakistan which is almost 100% in the US”.

He added that the Nullah Lai passing between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad has become a waste water conduit which could be fixed by the masses and stakeholdera through collective approach as it had been a clean water reservoir in the past.

“There is need to approach communities that are most affected due to climate change. We have to learn from the communities facing issues in the real time. We have to rely on indigenous practices in rural areas. Water scarcity lies in poor water governance in Pakistan,” he highlighted.

Dr Saqib mentioned that the WWF was trying to recycle ablution water in mosques as a pilot model. He added that there was need to start water education at different tiers to conserve water.

Dr Zaigham Habib Water and Hydrology Expert said as a Himalayan country, the region was most affected as low riparian country.

“Every second house in ICT has a water pump where the ground water is depleting fast. Vapour transportation has increased and more than beneficial level,” she warned.

Capitalism, she said was developing in Asia as the maximum carbon production was in India and China where Pakistan has become their dumping site.

“There is less information of water availability at higher level of the policy making cohort that needs to be improved. At the governance level we lack proper map showing climate change interaction with different sectors,” she noted.

Dr Habib said the rural areas lacked sanitation and drainage system that needed to be addressed for sustainable development.

“We are among water stress nations which would increase with the passage of time.

We should talk about clean growth which is possible and can be started from any where,” she said.

Director of Programmes & Projects Office, Program Director for Islamic Organization for Food Security Dr. Ismail Abdelhamid said 75% of the world’s fresh water was utilized by the agriculture sector.

“The challenge for us is to not only preserve our water but to educate the people to conserve water. Egypt is an agricultural country and climate change is its problem,” he added.

Dr Abdelhamid said the challenge was to devise a holistic policy and how to introduce new solutions for agriculture sector for less water usage and sustainable growth.

“We are hiring experts to find solutions to ensure climate resilience and to adopt up to date solutions for Climate Change mitigation,” he concluded.

Muhammad Ismail Imam of Kalya village highlighted the eco-friendly initiatives launched by RSPN to help ensure access to clean drinking water, education, waste management and nature conservation through tree plantation and public awareness.

He informed that he was educating the masses and children to plant trees to address pollution during Jumma congregations.

“We propose the authorities to develop rainwater harvesting solutions like small dams to address water scarcity in our area,” he said.

During the Second Panel discussion on Climate Action in Religious Doctrine moderated by Aerib Azhar, Islamic Scholar Dr Aslam Khaki said in Islam God says that mankind shares three resources jointly: water, greenery and fire and no one can monoplize them.

Islamic Scholar Allama Dr Mohsin Naqvi said there were a number of teachings of Holy Prophet (PBUH) on environmental conservation which should be followed.

Lawyer and Criminology Consultant Humaira Masihuddin said there was so much wealth in the world but unfair distribution of wealth caused the disaster at all levels.

“The Jumma congregations need to be revisited and reimagined. We have to teach that every single commodity is an imanah (decree, mandate) of Lord given to you which will be questioned on the day of Judgement for their usage.”

She added that Iran and Bangladesh reduced their population sizes through mosques. If the examples are quoted from the lives and history of the communities then they would respond like

Holy Prophet (PBUH) had marked protected areas outside Medinah to ensure conservation as an Islamic principle of protection 1400 years back.

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