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Small rainwater dams praised as a boon for farmers in Sindh


Reuters
January 26, 202




Pakistan, a nation of about 220 million people, faces increasing water scarcity. — Photo courtesy Rizwan Safdar/File


Pakistan, a nation of about 220 million people, faces increasing water scarcity.


ISLAMABAD: For years, Nangji Mal struggled to scrape together a living growing pulses and pearl millet on his farm in Nagarparkar, a desert area in Sindh.

But these days his land is lush and fertile, after the government constructed new water-harvesting dams nearby.

Using irrigation water from one of the small dams, Mal is growing onions, wheat and other crops on his 40-acre plot and says he has seen his income increase more than 60 per cent.

“It had never occurred to me that I might be able, in my lifetime, to earn a handsome amount from my fields, but this reservoir has made it all possible,” said Mal, 59.

Pakistan, a nation of about 220 million people, faces increasing water scarcity driven by worsening climate-related drought and an agriculture industry that is pushing itself to meet the demands of a growing population, say water experts.


Govt hopes these dams will also recharge groundwater levels
Less than 20 per cent of the water the country’s farmers use for irrigation is captured rainwater, with most coming from ground and surface water, according to a paper published in 2020 by a group of agricultural and environmental researchers.

The Sindh government hopes the new rainwater harvesting dams will not only provide farmers with a reliable water supply but also help recharge groundwater levels, as some of the water from the dams sinks into the earth, said Murtaza Wahab, environment adviser to the chief minister of Sindh.

Since construction started six years ago, the provincial government has built 60 small rainwater-fed dams —each with an average storage capacity of 100,000 gallons — in the remote drought-hit areas of Nagarparkar and Kohistan, Wahab added.

The plan is to build at least 23 more in the next two or three years, he said.
Wahab noted that because those areas have such scattered populations, there are no reliable figures on how many people are benefiting from the new dams.

Mal said the dam in his area has transformed his farm, as he can now use water from it year-round to irrigate his crops.

In Tharparkar, the district where Mal’s farm is located, the average annual rainfall can be as low as 9mm (0.35 inches) and the area frequently experiences drought, according to international charity WaterAid.

“(Before) my farming was on a very small scale, really not enough to meet my expenses, as it was all dependent on only rainwater throughout the year,” the farmer said.

Better livelihoods

The State Bank of Pakistan noted in its annual report for 2016-17 that the country’s water supply was both limited and erratic, while demand was rising rapidly due to a growing population and increasing urbanisation.

“The resulting imbalance is pushing the country towards severe water shortage,” the report stated.
According to its latest economic survey, Pakistan had about 94 million acre feet of surface water available for agriculture during the financial year 2019-20 — a nearly 10 per cent shortfall compared to how much the sector uses on average every year.

Wahab, the government adviser, said the small dams had been a boon to the farmers using them, noting that last year Nagarparkar’s onion farmers reported a total yield worth 600 million rupees ($3.75m), a record for Sindh province.

“The dams have a long-term benefit for the local population, because when abundant water is available in these water-scarce areas, people will bring more barren land under cultivation and the number of their livestock will start increasing,” he said.

Besides the Sindh government’s project, the federal government has also allocated Rs20.4 billion to build more than 500 small dams across the country, said Ghazala Channar, deputy chief of water resources in the Ministry of Planning.

The new reservoirs will help mitigate floods, ease poverty and develop agriculture, as well as increasing the water table and providing clean drinking water, she added.

“Access to more water will boost the agricultural economy ... and thus provide more jobs to people, not only in the sector but also in all areas that are directly or indirectly linked with farming,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


Careful use

Water experts warn, however, that small dams are not a silver bullet for arid parts of the country.
Daanish Mustafa, professor of critical geography at King’s College, London, said using small dams to recharge groundwater supplies only works in freshwater zones.

The rainwater caught by the dams is not much used in topping up the water table in areas like Sindh, where 80 per cent of the underground water supply is saline, he explained.

Instead, Mustafa said, the provincial and federal governments should stop subsidising the electricity commercial farms use to run large tube-wells, which are a major cause of depleting underground water levels.



The authorities also need to help farmers adapt to the water supply they have now, he said, adding that those in drought-prone areas should learn to grow less thirsty crops.

The cultivation of rice and sugarcane, which need more water, should be discouraged in Sindh, he added.
Mal agreed that he and the thousands of other farmers in his area who use the small dams still need to be careful with how much water they use.

Yet despite criticisms of the project, finally having a reliable water source has changed his life, he said.
“I am no more an unlucky person, because I’m earning enough from my fields to make ends meet,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2021
 

ghazi52

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Women in Sindh win historic recognition to manage water


Despite being a major part of Sindh's agricultural force, women farmers were kept excluded from water management for years.

Manoj Genani
22 Jan, 2021


This week, a landmark amendment passed by the Sindh province’s legislative assembly recognised — for the first time — the role of women farmers in water management. The Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill, 2018 now guarantees women’s representation in around 45,000 water course associations, over 350 farmer organisations, and 14 area water boards in the province. It has been a long battle to create an historic change.

Dhani Bux, a farmer and advocate for efficient water management in his district Badin, was one of many men demanding a share of water in the ‘tail-end areas’ of the Sindh province. For the last decade, Bux and his fellow farmers have faced a serious scarcity of water that has turned their fertile lands in Badin and Thatta barren and spurred mass migration. He is the leader of the District Badin Alliance, formed after legislation titled the ‘Sindh Water Management Ordinance’ (SWMO) was passed in 2002 which required that farmers’ organisations be formed at each distributary for the equitable distribution of water.


A view of Akram wah canal which supplies irrigation water to Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin tail areas. — Photo by Manoj Genani


A view of Akram wah canal which supplies irrigation water to Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin tail areas. — Photo by Manoj Genani

Unfortunately, there was no specific provision or requirement for women farmers, therefore women were kept out of this important fight. “Unfortunately, I was not part of the farmers’ organisation that decides the distribution of water resources,” Farzana (who uses one name) told The Third Pole. From the village of Qasim Solangi, she rears cattle, takes part in several agricultural activities, brings water home and does housework.

Farzana added, “If women are given a chance in water resource management, we know the lands more than men, and can decide what suitable measures should be taken.”


Rizwana Solangi, a farmer, in her village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani



Rizwana Solangi, a farmer, in her village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani

Women farmers in rural Sindh are a significant part of the agricultural workforce. In 2015, an FAO study in Pakistan reported that women’s role in agriculture increased during the last two decades, as many men migrated from Sindh’s rural areas to urban centres to improve their income possibilities and to avoid exploitation from local landlords.

“Such conditions have given rural women an active role in on-farm and off-farm activities and has also increased their work burden and responsibilities. Women in Sindh are involved in crop production from sowing to harvesting stages, rural women in agriculture, they should be recognized as women farmers rather than sharecroppers or helpers. Women in rural Sindh work on average for 12-14 hours a day,” the report said.

Water scarcity is a huge problem for the farmers in rural Sindh. 77% of these, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, are women.


Women from the Hindu minority community bringing grasses from the farms to their home, Qasim Solangi, Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani


Women from the Hindu minority community bringing grasses from the farms to their home, Qasim Solangi, Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani

The water network which consists of three barrages, 14 main canals and about 40,000 field outlets is a key pillar of the rural economy. This massive and cohesive system of canals, outlets and distributaries has been the lifeline of the people here for the last century. However, for the last few years, due to theft and the usage of water by big landowners for their own orchards, the tail-end areas have been largely deprived.

And while men like Bux fight this “political influence and monopoly of big landowners” whom he said “have axed the fair distribution of water”, women are excluded from these platforms even though they are stakeholders very much affected by irrigation policies, laws and distribution of water.

Activist Abida Samoo highlighted the challenge women face. “In rural areas, women do a lot of work in the agricultural field — more than men — from sowing seeds to harvesting,” he said. “Unfortunately, they don’t have a stake in water distribution, even though a woman can efficiently use water once she gets involved.”



Landless women farmers collecting rice straw from field areas, near village Khan Muhammad Panhwar, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani


Landless women farmers collecting rice straw from field areas, near village Khan Muhammad Panhwar, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani

Without a clear role in water governance, women and landless peasants are less involved in water conservation.


Fighting for recognition


A legislator in the Sindh province, Rana Ansar, had had enough.

“I also belong to a farming family. Years ago, when we faced a water crisis, I took a stand and raised my voice. But I was told to ‘stay away’ because women don’t have any power in the farmer organisations or in the area water boards,” said Ansar, who proposed an amendment bill in 2018 that covers the role of women in water management.
After a three-year struggle, on January 12, 2021, the amendment taken up by MPA Ansar was passed by the Assembly.


The amendments are:
  • An amendment to Section 30 that includes “Two prominent women of the AWB command area from a strong farming background in irrigated agriculture and water, preferably a member of Board of Management of any FO”
  • An amendment to Section 42 that includes: “Two women [should be] of the FO command area having strong farming background in irrigated agriculture and water, provided that one-woman member shall be landless”
  • In section 56, subsection (1) “In addition to elected members of WCA, the Board of WCA shall consist of two women members preferably sharecroppers of the same water course, where the WCA is formed”
  • An amendment to Section 70 that includes: “Two women members, one shall be prominent woman activist/ Lawyer/journalist and one shall be prominent woman agriculturist.


The amendment has met with support from many quarters. Genevieve Hussain, a Policy Officer at the FAO, said this recognition is hugely important. Amjad Baloch, the regional coordinator of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, told a local paper that, prior to this, women were not part of any structure. “Now after the passage of the amendment, women will get representation in around 45,000 water course associations (WCAs), over 350 farmer organisations (FOs), and 14 area water boards (AWBs),” Baloch said. “It helps in mainstreaming women in water resource management and irrigation structures in the province.”


A farmer from one of minority communities called Baghri, harvesting rice crops from village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani



A farmer from one of minority communities called Baghri, harvesting rice crops from village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani


Most importantly women farmers like Khatijan Ghirano, who owns 6 acres of land, were elated. “Women can save more than men as we know very well the agricultural land and the issues related to water, water courses and distributaries,” she said “Once we are part of the farmers’ organisation, we will find a way to solve these issues.”
 

ghazi52

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Mar 21, 2007
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CM approves several projects

The Public Private Policy (PPP) Board in its 32nd board meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah,
approved following projects....................................................

1-Mauripur Expressway, Link Road to Korangi,
2-Hub water supply 3 MGD water supply from Dhabeji to Special Economic Zone,
3-Lyari Sewerage system,
4-LDA scheme,
5-five MGD desalination plants
6-Construction of canal from Nabirsar to Vajira on public private partnership.


The projects which were discussed and approved are as follows:

Mauripur Expressway: The board discussed construction of Mauripur Expressway (ME). It would be an eight-kilometre two into two lane project from Maripur Expressway to Y-Junction and it would have two lanes one-way Interchange at ICI bridge.

The ME is expected to provide a speedy access to Karachi Beach area and it would be completed in two years, the chief minister said and added it would bring an end to traffic congestion in the area.




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ghazi52

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Development work is being carried out by Sindh Govt at YMCA Ground Karachi.
The facility will provide a Hockey Field, Jogging Track, Walking Track and Greenfield at the area.



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ghazi52

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CPEC’s Thar Coal Block-1 project progressing quickly, says top official


Web Desk
February 9, 2021






Mr Tariq Shah, Secretary Energy Department Government of Sindh, Mr Li Jigen CEO Sino Sindh Resources Private Limited and Mr Meng Donghai, CEO of Thar Coal Block-1 Power Generation Co, perform ribbon-cutting at the office opening of SSRL in Karachi at The Harbour Front.

KARACHI: Chief Operating Officer of the Sino Sindh Resources Private Limited (SSRL) Li Jigen said Monday that the Thar Coal Block-1 project, which is an important part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is making rapid progress.

"Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other obstacles, the mega project in Thar has picked up pace in recent times," he said according to a statement issued.

Tariq Shah, Sindh Energy Secretary and Meng Donghai, CEO of Thar Coal Block-1 Power Generation Co and Li Jigen shared more details about the project.

Tariq Shah lauded the progress made in the Thar Block-1 project which comprises a 7.8-million-tonne-per-annum (Mtpa) open-pit coal mine and installation of a 1.3 GW ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant.

Almost 40% of work related to coal mining has been completed while construction work is also in progress on the power plant. Mining work would be completed by the end of 2021 and the first unit of the power plant would also start working from 2022.

The entire project would be completed by 2023.
 

ghazi52

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The Sindh Government has decided to install a 200MW power plant based on civic waste as a primary resource for power generation.

The decision was made at a meeting chaired by Sindh Minister for Local Government, Information, Religious Affairs, and Forests, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, and Sindh Minister for Energy, Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh.

As per reports, the meeting participants proposed a concise timeline for the project and advised relevant officials to make it “operational as soon as possible.”

It was further highlighted that more than 8,000 tonnes of waste is being produced daily in the port city, which could be channeled into the proposed power plant for generating 200 MW of electricity.



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