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Experts say National Water Policy document be revisited to address lacunae

By Our Staff Correspondent 2018-05-11
HYDE R ABAD: A critical review of the recently-approved National Water Policy (NWP) was held at a consultative meeting of experts at the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W) of the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET), Jamshoro, on Thursday.

A visiting delegation of the Universityof Utah, USA, also participated in the discussion.

The participants stressed the need for evolving a coherent framework to implement the policy and improve it in future. They welcomed it as the first good attempt by the government to have an NWP and observed that there was always room for improvement.

Presiding over the event, DrTariq Banuri of the University of Utah presented salient features of the policy and appreciated the initiative aimed at addressing all related issues effectively. In his critical view, he described NWP as `a fragmented policy with so many duplications in terms of objectives, principles, etc`.

If the six targets on the subject set under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could be implemented, all 28 actions proposed in the NWP could easily be ensured, he said.

Dr Banuri was of the view that the policy had `gaps` vis-a-vis proper attention on and due priorities for environment.

There were many challenges and targets that ought to have been mentioned and dealt with by the policymakers when they were at work.According to him, the target of only safe drinking water 80 per cent for the urban population and 60pc for the rural population till 2025 has been set probably because this is easily achievable.

The targets for food security, water efficiency and other issues had not been set, he said.

Dr Aslam Chaudhry associated with the same university stressed the need for further elaborating specific measures to translate NWP into action. For strengthening linkages between research and policy implementation, an assessment should be done first with regard to the current status of research on various policy objectives and then more analyses be undertaken to identify the target areas, he said.

Another expert from the university, Dr Steve Burian, offered hisinstitution`s technical assistance to the USPCAS-W faculty and other national researchers for implementing the research agenda.

Sindh government`s Water Sector Improvement Project (WSIP) coordinator Dr Fateh Mari said that creating a workable structure by doing careful mapping of policy objectives with the issues outlined in the NWP document would help advance implementation of the policy.

He said that Sindh`s water policy was currently being prepared as consultations among different stakeholders were under way.

Other experts who participated in the consultation and shared their ideas included USPCAS-W project director Dr Bakhshal Lashari, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)`s Centre forWaterInformatics&Technology(WIT) director Dr Abubakr Mohammad, policy adviser Dr Mohammad Naveed Iftikhar, Prof Mushtaq Mirani and Engineer Ehsan Laghari.

They discussed and identiñed several critical areas for further studies.

They noted various gaps and identiñed research needs to support policy implementation.

The principal recommendations put forth by the experts included removal of inconsistencies in the NWP document, mapping of policy objectives with critical issues required to be addressed, clustering of policy measures and actions in line with the SDG targets for water, mainstreaming of the cross-cutting issues, defining obligations of federal and provincial governments and setting targets and milestones.