PESHAWAR: Experts at a seminar on Thursday called for better management of cross-border rivers to deal with growing water scarcity, frequent droughts and increased heat waves due to climate change. Experts have emphasized the remodeling of water supply and irrigation infrastructure to save water resources in the future. The seminar entitled “Hydro-climatic modeling of transboundary waters” was organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Peshawar University of Agriculture. Stakeholders stated that depletion of water resources and dilapidated infrastructure are causes of water loss. They called for urgent concrete and achievable measures if Pakistan was to escape the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
USAID water resources development expert Muhammad Nawaz stressed the importance of such activities. He spoke about USAID’s interests in the water sector in Pakistan and added that the USAID-funded Gomal Zam Dam has the third largest water storage capacity in Pakistan.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Dr Jehan Bakt, said Pakistan was the 10th country in the world severely affected by climate change.
“Rapid population growth, unplanned urbanization, deteriorating forms of drought, sudden heat waves causing massive flooding threaten our existence,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor maintained that Pakistan was 14th out of 17 high-risk countries where 80% of its population would face severe water scarcity.
“Pakistan has the lowest ratio of productivity per cubic meter of water,” he explained.
Water and climate change expert Dr. Asif Khan discussed various aspects, causes, impacts and solutions to impending climate change and increasing water scarcity in the Indus basins, Kabul basin and its sub -basins.
He said if there was a 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, there would be a four to five degree rise in Pakistan’s temperature which would lead to prolonged droughts and severe flash floods. “In the worst case, it would threaten the Indus Basin civilization,” he added.
The expert emphasized an effective data sharing system between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China on its transboundary rivers for better water management.
“Pakistan needs to construct small hydro projects upstream to mitigate the impacts of floods which not only reduce storage capacity but also damage infrastructure,” he said.
Dr. Shahid Iqbal, Regional Researcher in Water Modeling at IWMI, said the selection of hydrological modeling and its forensic use in the data-sparse region is very delicate and very important in the modern era. . “Now is the time to embrace new methods to improve water resources management in the context of climate change,” he added.
Dr. Iqbal introduced the Soil and Water Assessment Tool or SWAT hydrological model to the experts from various departments who were present as participants.