BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: International Water Day was marked in Gilgit amid concerns for fast depleting water resources around the globe and likely measures to tackle the threats.
The day was oganised by WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with GB-EPA, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Karakoram International University (KIU) and Serena Hotel Gilgit.
The theme for the joint event was “Water for Jobs: Empowering Young Professionals” – held at KIU and was attended by academia, officials from government, NGOs and media.
Experts in the program highlighted the importance of water for life, livelihood and employability in Gilgit-Baltistan – home to almost 75 percent of water for Pakistan by its network of glaciers and snow cover.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Minister for woks, Haji Abdul Wakeel, Minister for Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department, Dr. Hashim Paupal Zai, Additional Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, chairman Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources were the Guests of Honour on the occasion.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal said his department is seriously tacking actions to reduce water pollution and working on proper sanitation schemes with the help of WASEP, AKPBS and other partners.
Professor Dr. Arif un Nissa Naqvi, Dean Faculty of Sciences and Acting Vice Chancellor of KIU said, “The mountainous landscapes of G-B are the primary watersheds of Indus River and almost 75% of water into Indus River System is contributed by its tributaries including Shango, Shyok, Shigar, Hunza, Hisper, Ghizer and Astore, originating from the mountains of G-B.
Dr. Muhammad Hasim Popalzai, Additional Secretary, National Food Security and Research, highlighted the need of conservation of water for food security and lay emphasis on introducing modern techniques of irrigation on which later on shed light by Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources.
They also highlighted the policies on which Gilgit-Baltistan provincial government is working in collaboration with the line government and non-government organizations for the improvement of local livelihoods.
Dr. Abdul Wahid Jasra, Country Representative ICIMOD-Pakistan shared the message of Dr. David Molden, Director General ICIMOD.
According to Hamad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan, people see water as a never ending resource and we need to change that perception if we are to effectively conserve this resource. We are already on the list of top ten countries most affected by climate change, and our current water availability of just 964 m3 per capita, well below the threshold of water scarcity of 1,000 m3 per capita, means that the non-availability of water will impact our agricultural output, industrial production and people’s health.
An expert panel discussion on themes; Food-Energy nexus in the context of mountain areas, was also organized in which panelist from GB-EPA, PCRWR and KIU, Gilgit talked about Scope, Challenges and Opportunities relating water and water resources in Gilgit-Baltistan and responded to the questions from the participants.
Students from Media and Communication Department-KIU Presented a skit highlighting importance of water for life, livelihood and economy, which was highly appreciated by the audience.
Saeed Abbas of WWF-Pakistan thanked the audiences for being part of the successful WWD 2016 celebration.