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The challenge

Addressing sustainable water use in one of the most vulnerable river basins in Asia

Pakistan is totally reliant on the surface water and groundwater resources of the Indus Basin to support food, energy and economic security. Pakistan faces significant challenges with more than 40% of the population malnourished and a rapidly growing population. These issues are exacerbated by unsustainable use of groundwater, changes in the seasonality of flow into rivers, and limited storage.

Limited storage means that predictions of water availability for the coming irrigation season are important for the equitable and efficient delivery of water throughout the Indus irrigation system in Pakistan.

Our response

Better data, knowledge and modelling frameworks

SDIP is helping Pakistan to make better predictions of future seasonal inflows for best use of limited water. SDIP is also assisting Pakistan to build a modelling framework that considers the interaction between surface water and groundwater resources.

Building on a long history of working together, Australia and Pakistan are collaborating to implement Australian water resource management technologies and build local capacity in integrated water resources management and impact assessment.

When completed the framework will help Pakistan in understanding the impacts of climate change, management interventions and infrastructure development on water, food and energy security and the associated impacts on people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.

New products to support integrated water resources management and evidence-based policy formulation are under active development and include:

The results

Using an integrated modelling framework to link field, irrigation district and basin scales

A new generation of water management products provides a defensible and agreed understanding of the water resources of Pakistan. They provide a means of assessing the impact and trade-offs of external drivers and management interventions on the nation, its provinces and the communities who depend on the waters of the Indus.

A key achievement is the Indus River System Model (IRSM) representing the Pakistan Indus Basin Irrigation System by describing both the physical and water sharing systems on a daily time step. Using IRSM provides the ability to investigate the impacts of climate change, population growth, infrastructure development and economic development.

The implementation of Australian water management technologies and associated capacity building is supporting a more productive and water secure Pakistan.

About SDIP

This work is part of a portfolio of investments supported by the Australian Government addressing the regional challenges of water, food and energy security in South Asia.

The SDIP Phase 2 aims to improve the integrated management of water, energy and food in the Himalayan river basins, addressing climate risk and the interests of women and girls. It seeks to:

  • strengthen practices for regional cooperation
  • generate and use critical new knowledge to enhance regional cooperation
  • improve the regional enabling environment for private sector engagement.

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