Experts demand resolving water stress for sustainable future

Experts demand resolving water stress for sustainable future

ISLAMABAD, Jun 13 (APP): The experts at a two-day workshop titled Pakistan: United for Shared Responsibility on Monday said that the country was a water stress nation that needed to address its growing water issues for a sustainable future on priority.

The workshop was organised by Faith For Our Planet (FFOP) in cooperation with
Iqbal International Institute of Research and Dialogue of IIUI, RSPN, and ifees.ecoislam.

The event has also convened some of Pakistan’s major environmental minds to interact with the nation’s religious leadership to explore practical roles the country’s religious institutions can play in addressing the region’s burgeoning climate challenges.

The event stands a unique forum designed to facilitate a much needed collaboration between scientific and religious leadership attended by faith and community leaders from across South Asia, including Sunni, Shia, minority Hindu and Sikh leaders from across Pakistan and beyond.

The panel discussion on the first day on ‘From Indus to the Himalayas: The future of Food, Water and Weather’ was moderated by senior environmental journalist and climate activist Dr Afia Salam who said that bulging population boom was the elephant in the room causing stress on the earth and its resources.

WWF-Pakistan Director Governance and Policy Dr Imran Khalid said that water stress and lack of access to clean drinking water was equally damaging and impacting all factions of the society.
“Only one percent of waste water is treated in Pakistan which is almost 100% in the US”.

He added that the Nullah Lai passing between the twin cities Rawalpindi and Islamabad had become a waste water conduit which could be fixed by the masses and stakeholders through collective approach as it had been a clean water reservoir in the past.

“There is a need to approach communities that are most affected due to climate change. We have to learn from the communities facing issues in the real time. We have to rely on indigenous practices in rural areas. Water scarcity lies in poor water governance in Pakistan,” he suggested.

Dr Saqib mentioned that the WWF was trying to recycle ablution water in mosques as a pilot model. He added that there was a need to start water education at different tiers to conserve water.

Dr Zaigham Habib, water and hydrology expert, said that as a Himalayan country, the region was the most affected as low riparian country.
“Every second house in ICT has a water pump where the ground water is depleting fast. Vapour transportation has increased and more than beneficial level,” she warned.

Capitalism, she said, was developing in Asia as the maximum carbon production was in India and others, where Pakistan had become their dumping site.

“There is less information of water availability at higher level of the policy making cohort that needs to be improved. At the governance level we lack proper map showing climate change interaction with different sectors,” she noted.

Dr Zaigham said that the rural areas lacked sanitation and drainage system – something that needed to be addressed for sustainable development.

“We are among water stress nations which would increase with the passage of time,”
she said.

Program Director for Islamic Organization for Food Security Dr. Ismail Abdelhamid said that 75% of the world’s fresh water was utilized by the agriculture sector.
“The challenge for us is to not only preserve our water but also to educate the people to conserve water. Egypt is an agricultural country facing serious impacts of climate change,” he added.

Dr Abdelhamid said that the challenge was to devise a holistic policy and how to introduce new solutions for agriculture sector for less water usage and sustainable growth.

“We are hiring experts to find solutions to ensure climate resilience and to adopt the latest solutions for Climate Change mitigation,” he concluded.

Muhammad Ismail Imam of Kalya village highlighted the eco-friendly initiatives launched by RSPN to help ensure access to clean drinking water, education, waste management and nature conservation through tree plantation and public awareness.

He informed the participants that he was educating the masses and children during Jumma congregations to plant trees in order to address increasing pollution.
“We propose the authorities to develop rainwater harvesting solutions like small dams to address water scarcity in our area,” he said.

During the second panel discussion on Climate Action in Religious Doctrine moderated by Aerib Azhar, Islamic Scholar Dr Aslam Khaki said that in The Holy Quran, Allah says that mankind shares three resources jointly: water, greenery and fire and no one can monopolize them.

Islamic Scholar Allama Dr Mohsin Naqvi said there were a number of teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) on environmental conservation which should be followed by all.

Lawyer and Criminology Consultant Humaira Masihuddin said that there was so much wealth in the world but its unfair distribution contributed to disaster at all levels.

“The Jumma congregations need to be revisited and reimagined. We have to teach that every single commodity is an imanah (trust) of Lord given to you which will be questioned on the day of Judgement for their usage.”

She added that Iran and Bangladesh reduced their population sizes through education and awareness on population control through the pulpits of mosques. “If the examples are quoted from the lives and history of the local communities, then they would respond like the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had marked protected areas outside Madinah to ensure conservation as an Islamic principle of protection some 1400 years back.”

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