Karez systems in Pakistan are traditional practices of water tapping and channelling.
Due to overpumping of groundwater aquifers in Balochistan province, out of the estimated 800 karezes, 175 have dried up in recent decades. This province is the largest of Pakistan but least populous, due to the harsh climactic and topographic conditions. About 70% of the population is dependent on agriculture and livestock to earn their livelihood, and highly dependent on water availability.
Most of the province is characterised by drylands with traditional systems of water management practiced since centuries, to which the karezes are of pivotal importance.
Realising this reliance on traditional water management systems, IUCN Pakistan with the support of the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative, is currently undertaking an action-oriented study in the Ziarat District of Balochistan. The purpose of this study is to document and share traditional water management structures and institutional systems in the region. The aim will be to integrate this knowledge into water resource management policies at the national and provincial levels in Pakistan.
The study will help in policy advocacy for reintroducing and promoting indigenous water resource management techniques and institutional arrangements, helping improved water resource management in water deficit areas of Balochistan.
Since the project will be implemented in close and active partnership with the provincial departments of irrigation and agriculture, they will carry forward the successful models and approaches from this project and take advantage of modern science and techniques in water resource management through interaction with the project team.
The learning from the initiative would be incorporated in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) work being undertaken by another IUCN project ‘Balochistan Partnerships for Sustainable Development’ (BPSD) which is being implemented in six districts of Balochistan in collaboration with government departments and communities.
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