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Universities undertake research for provision of clean water

Thursday, 18 Jul 2013 11:08 pm

Many leading universities of Pakistan are undertaking research in collaboration with foreign universities to resolve the issue of safe and clean drinking water, causing thousands of deaths each year. 

According to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistani universities are collaborating with leading American and British universities to undertake joint research projects throughout the country to ensure the access of clean drinking water. 

More than 40 percent of the reported diseases in Pakistan are water-borne as a majority of the population does not have access to clean drinking water. Majority of the population drinks from open water sources including canals, rivers and wells which are highly contaminated. 

A study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found that 20 to 40 percent of the hospital beds in the country are occupied by patients suffering from water-related diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis, causing one-third of all deaths. While an estimated 250,000 child deaths occur each year due to water-borne disease. University of Balochistan, Western Michigan University and University of Houston have initiated a research project, ‘Assessment and Development of Renewable Groundwater Resources in the Quetta Valley, Pakistan’ under Pak-US Science and Technology Cooperation Programme. 

The project which aims at developing water resources for the citizens of Balochistan through finding and developing extra ground water resources, forming a database of ground water and finding areas with harmful chemicals has achieved fruitful results. The projects include ‘Removal of Arsenic from Drinking Water Using Iron Ores as Low Cost Reactive Absorbent Media’ by the joint efforts of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) and the University of Arizona and ‘Capacity Building for Research, Education and Training in Water Resources Management in Pakistan’ by UET and the University of South California. 

Other projects are ‘Small Scale Sewage Treatment and Waste Water Reuse System for Pakistan’ by Quaid e Azam University and George Washington University and ‘Water, Sanitation, Health and Hygiene Interventions in a Northern Pakistani Village’ between Karakoram International University and the National Institute of Health USA. 

Besides, a number of projects have been undertaken with the British universities under the International Strategic Partnerships in Research and Education (INSPIRE). Lead researchers from both countries have shared expertise through bilateral research exchanges in various projects including ‘Development of Water Scarcity Management Strategies in the Upper Indus Basin’ by UET and Newcastle University and ‘Use of Geosynthetic Materials to Provide Clean Well Water’ by Textile Institute of Pakistan and the University of Bolton. The innovative filtration plant, under this partnership, has been developed that could potentially be the answer to the global water related issues. The research has a full capacity to be marketed at an international forum, benefit the masses through use of IXT (ion exchange textiles) and giving cost-effective solutions since the materials are regenerative in nature. 

The HEC has financed a number of projects to encourage indigenous research in universities on clean drinking water under National Research Program for Universities (NRPU). 

Commenting on these programmes, HEC Chairperson Dr Javaid Laghari said, “The objective is to develop local expertise and indigenous technology through strong collaboration with research groups in leading foreign universities. These projects help encourage and foster foreign relationships based on the exchange of knowledge and technology.” 

He remarked that through various workshops, conferences, seminars, lectures and vital exchange of information between local and foreign researchers would help resolve issues pertaining to unsafe and unclean drinking water in the country. “The benefits of higher education and research are becoming quite evident and higher education sector has started to play a vital role towards the socio-economic development of the country,” he added. 

The chairperson assured that HEC would extend full support and continue to work with the government and involve local expertise to resolve various problems of the country. 



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