Irrigation and water resource management
It is anticipated that the course will take place in Australia from October to December 2013 and will be facilitated over approximately eight weeks.
Water scarcity is fast becoming a critical issue for many countries in the developed and developing world. Recent events have seen the emergence of a world food crisis – over the last three years, food prices have doubled. This has had a profound effect on the poor living on $1 per day or less. Several factors are driving the current food crisis, including rising demand, increasing biofuels production, regional impacts of drought and water scarcity due to climate change, and changes in economic and trade policy in some countries: all this leads to further pressure on water resources and the environment.
Issues related to water resource management and irrigation becomes more pronounced in countries like Pakistan which is dependent on agriculture and facing the threat of water scarcity. The potential of Pakistan's agriculture sector is widely recognized – it cannot only be self-sufficient in its food supplies, but can also be a major exporter of agricultural products. The country is also already a leading producer of wheat, rice, cotton and milk. Agriculture contributes to 25% of Pakistan's Gross Domestic Product, employs 50% of the rural workforce, and backs over 60% of exports.
Pakistan is known for having the largest area under contiguous irrigation in the world, heavily dependent on the inflows into the Indus River system derived mostly from snowmelt in the western Himalayas. Irrigation played a large and significant role in the growth of Pakistan's agricultural sector stimulated by investment since the 1960s–in Punjab only it serves about 8.4 million ha2 of fertile lands in the heart of the Indus Basin. Over 90% of agricultural output in Punjab comes from irrigated lands.
Over time, demands on irrigation water systems have increased beyond the system design parameters due to population pressures and agricultural development. In addition, changes in the socio-economic context, build-up of environmental issues, stagnation of irrigation sector institutions and deterioration of irrigation infrastructure had resulted in a progressive decline of irrigation performance. The need to improve irrigation management and water resource management now figures high on the agendas of most national and international agencies in Pakistan. This has been triggered by declining irrigation performance despite sizeable investment in the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure.
Today, competition for water is growing and the irrigation sector is under threat:
- The country identifies water scarcity& efficient use of available water resource as a problem made real by the demands of a large and growing population, where over 80% of arable land is irrigated.
- This is compounded by the threat of melting glaciers in the Himalayas due to climate change, which is likely to aggravate the serious problems of flooding in the lower reaches of the Indus Irrigation System.
- In recent years, surface irrigation infrastructures have shown signs of decay and are suffering from the problem of salinity.
- Groundwater is emerging as a major component of the irrigation sector bringing opportunities to farmers but this also affecting the water table and has worsened problems associated with salinity.
- There is a lack of adequate water storage facilities such as dams and reservoirs due to low levels of public investment in dam infrastructure and demands on land usage.
- Pakistan experiences large volumes of water wastage because methods of irrigation are still being used by farmers. Around 50 to 60 percent of water used on farms is wasted, mainly due to lack of water reservoirs.
- Overall, institutional issues constrain overall irrigation management in Pakistan, and the worsening situation can be addressed by implementing broad based institutional reforms in the irrigation sector.
- Many farmers do not have enough access to water due to problems with water rights, allocation and predictability.
- There is in-efficient distribution of water resources between urban and rural areas and overuse of water in the cities resulting in indirect strain on the agriculture sector.
To develop participants' knowledge of, and skills in, raising the performance of the irrigation systems through management reforms, technical knowledge, sharing of good practices, on farm water management and enhanced institutional capacity. Knowledge and skills in these areas will lead to participants' being able to contribute to reducing food insecurity and increasing economic development in Pakistan. This short course will provide participants with a conceptual framework for an 'integrated water resource management approach'. At the same time it will equip them with practical working tools to develop and apply sound policy to address constraints to irrigation and water resource management, and facilitate institutional reform within their organisation and country.
Objectives of the Program
- Objective 1: APAS SCA Alumni within key Pakistan agriculture research/ policy institutions/organisations (both public and private) develop sound policy relevant to the priority field of Irrigation and Water Resource Management, particularly where this aligns with the capacity building and enabling policy objectives of the Australia-Pakistan Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy (APARDS); and
- Objective 2: APAS SCA Alumni within key Pakistan agriculture research/ policy institutions/organisations (both public and private) apply sound practice relevant to the priority field of Irrigation and Water Resource Management, particularly where this aligns with the capacity building and enabling policy objectives of the Australia-Pakistan Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy (APARDS).
- Objective 3: APAS SCA Alumni creating opportunities for advocacy and recognition of Australia as an active partner in Pakistan's agricultural development.
Through a combination of classroom based learning activities, site visits, case studies and interactions with Australian experts, organisations and institutions, participants will:
- understand and be able to apply the integrated water resource management approach for irrigation and water resource management as it relates to Pakistan's agriculture context;
- have developed key knowledge and skills in irrigation and water resource management that will allow them to conduct research and develop policy, manage interventions, and address constraints to effective irrigation and water resource management;
- gain awareness of diverse and innovative ways of water resource management;
- understand basic concepts of hydrology and water resource, like water properties, hydrological cycle, sources of water and water balance calculation;
- understand and apply water management techniques such as demand management, the soft path approach, integrated water resource management, water governance and financing;
- understand the concepts of development, adaptation and adoption of irrigation, drainage and salinity management programs for major cropping systems;
- recognise the implications of the integrated water resource management approach for their work and organisation;
- be able to raise awareness regarding efficient water resource management among stakeholders;
- have generated new networks of support and learning among participants and faculty;
- be able to develop master plans/ideas for water saving at farm level, particularly progressive farmers;
- be able to quantify water loss or gain and understand water saving techniques for domestic use;
- be able to understand water harvesting techniques especially rain water;
- be able to understand water requirement indicators for crops, harmful impact over irrigation on crops/trees.
This category includes professionals and engineers working in public sector agriculture and irrigation departments and rural support organisations in private/civil society sector. The professionals will be actively engaged in agricultural research, policy development and application of improved agricultural practices or associated extension activities with a focus on irrigation and water resource management.
This category includes progressive/practicing farmers actively involved in on-farm management and practicing farmers who are also elected representatives of Farmer Organisations.
This category includes academics/researchers currently employed by public and private sector agriculture/engineering institutions and organisations that are actively engaged in agricultural research, policy development and application of improved agricultural practices or associated extension activities with a focus on irrigation and water resource management.