Gilgit, 22 March 2016: WWF-Pakistan, Gilgit Office in collaboration with Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB-EPA), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Karakoram International University (KIU) and Serena Hotel Gilgit jointly celebrated World Water Day 2016 “Water for Jobs: Empowering Young Professionals” at Karakoram International University Gilgit. Attended by people from different walks of life including academia, government departments, civil society organization and media, experts in the programme highlighted the importance of water for life, livelihood and employability in Gilgit-Baltistan – the origin and hub of almost 75 percent of water for Pakistan by its network of glaciers and snow cover.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Minister for Public works Department (Gilgit-Baltistan), Mr. Haji Abdul Wakeel, Minister for Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department (Gilgit-Baltistan), Dr. Hashim Paupal Zai, Additional Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research (Pakistan) and Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, chairman Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources were the Guests of Honour on the occasion. During their speeches highlighted the importance of Gilgit-Baltistan as water nurturing area for down plain areas of Pakistan. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal further added that 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.
Welcoming the audience, Professor Dr. Arif un Nissa Naqvi, Dean Faculty of Sciences and Acting Vice Chancellor of KIU said, “The mountainous landscapes of GB 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 GB.
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.
Mr. Khadim Hussain Saleem, Secretary Agriculture, livestock and Fisheries applauded the efforts of the organizers for showcasing significance of Water for inhabitants of Pakistan in terms of providing employability opportunities.
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. He added that Gilgit-Baltistan being the home of glacier containing mountains has immense potential to create water-related jobs and in the process, improve the lives and livelihoods of mountain people and further emphasized to create and sustain jobs through the judicious use of water and through the introduction of appropriate technologies and institutions to ensure that these jobs are profitable and sustainable in the long run.
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 panellist 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.
In the end, Mr. Saeed Abbas, Senior Conservation Officer, WWF-Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan thanked the audiences for being part of the successful WWD 2016 celebration.
Participants were given token of appreciations at the end.