Supporting traditional water systems in Pakistan

10 March 2011 | News story

Karez systems in Pakistan are traditional practices of water tapping and channelling. Due to overpumping of groundwater aquifers in Balochistan province, of an estimated 800 karezes, 175 have dried up in recent decades.

This province is the largest of Pakistan but least populous due to harsh climatic and topographic conditions. About 70% of the population depends on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood, and are highly dependent on water availability.

Most of the province is characterised by drylands where traditional systems of water management have been practiced for centuries and where the karezes are critically important.

Realising this reliance on traditional water management systems, IUCN Pakistan with the support of the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative, is undertaking an action-oriented study in the Ziarat District of Balochistan. The purpose of this study is to document and share traditional water management structures and institutional systems in the region. The aim will be to integrate this knowledge into water resource management policies at the national and provincial levels in Pakistan.

The study will help in policy advocacy for reintroducing and promoting indigenous water resource management techniques and institutions and improve water resource management in water scarce areas of Balochistan.

As the project is being implemented in close partnership with the provincial departments of irrigation and agriculture, they will carry forward its successful models and approaches and take advantage of the latest science and techniques in water resource management through interaction with the project team.

Lesson learned from the initiative will be incorporated into Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) work being undertaken by another IUCN project ‘Balochistan Partnerships for Sustainable Development’ (BPSD) which is being implemented in six districts of Balochistan in collaboration with government departments and communities.

For more information, please contact hamid.sarfraz@iucn.org