Conserve Glaciers For Water Supply, Say Experts

May 1st, 2013 | By | Category: Advocacy, Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Development and Climate Change, Disasters and Climate Change, Ecosystem Functions, Forest, Government Policies, Information and Communication, International Agencies, Land, Pakistan, Research, Resilience, Vulnerability, Water

K2-Baltoro Muztagh, Central Karakoram, PakistanDaily Times: Speakers at the launch of the policy brief on water management in the Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP) emphasised the need for collaborative and synchronised efforts to research the impact of climatic changes in the highlands.

They said only the integrated and collaborative approach would help conserve the large glaciers for smooth and steady provision of water not only for the human life and livelihood in the mountainous region but for the downstream as well.

The policy brief on water management in the Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP) was recently launched here by the SEED project of the EVK2CNR in collaboration with the Karakorum International University (KIU) and other partners. Muhammad Javed Malik, Member Agriculture and Food, Planning Commission of Pakistan, and Dr Najma Najam, Vice Chancellor KIU, were the chief guests. Domenico Bruzzone, the development head at the Italian embassy in Islamabad, was the guest of honour.

The key speakers included Raffaele Del Cima, Poject Director SEED, Dr Daniela Giardina, SEED Scientific Coordinator, Dr Shaheena Tariq, Chairperson of Metrology department at the Comsats University, Raina Saeed Khan, the environmental writer and columnist and Munir Ahmed, climate change advocacy expert.

“Our glaciers contribute volume of water to the Indus River that runs across the country and agriculture and ecology of Pakistan depends on the smooth flow of water in all seasons.

We need to take immediate bold steps to conserve our water towers by conserving the natural habitats and indiscriminate use of water resources besides protecting the rivers and lakes from the untreated waste water,” said Muhammad Javed Malik. Appreciating the SEED research, he asked for incorporating the valuable data into planning of countrywide development initiatives. Dr Najma Najam said the KIU is one of the major partners in the implementation of the SEED project. As many as 20 students have enrolled for the Ph.D programmes on variety of nature conservation and social development while 40 research projects are being run. The students spend their weekends in the fields and she believed that on the completion of the researches, we would have original and realistic data to combat the challenges of the climate change in Pakistan.

Raffaele Del Cima said “The key objectives of this policy on water are to draw on the knowledge body generated by the researches that have been carried out since 2009 through the Socio Economic Environmental Development (SEED) project for the Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP) in Gilgit-Baltistan. Specifically, the document highlights water issues and defines some priority actions based on the research findings. The recommendations provide support to the Pakistan National Drinking Water Policy (2009) that states the need to “provide access to safe and sustainable drinking water supply to the entire population of Pakistan by 2025. “Safe Water” refers to the water complying with National Drinking Water Quality Standards.”

Talking about the recommendations, Raffaele Del Cima said the policy brief urge for improving communication of research findings from the scientific community to the policy makers; and to promote awareness of local communities on water protection and treatment, and hygienic behaviour by avoiding animals near water sources, and to reduce risks of water pollution through the establishment of water safety plans at communal level, and to sensitise all the stakeholders, in the public and private sector for water quality supply and protection.

Dr Daniela Giardina said the Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP) stretching to about 11,000 square kilometres has the largest glacial deposits on the globe out of polar region.

About 38 per cent of the total area of the CKNP consists of glaciers. This huge body of ice-fed streams and lakes represent the resource of freshwater for both the CKNP ecosystem and communities as well as downstream almost the entire Pakistan.

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