ISLAMABAD: Pakistan can get more economic, social and environmental benefits from its water, subject to urgent reforms to improve water use efficiency and service delivery, says a new report from the World Bank.
The report, Pakistan: Getting More from Water, states that while Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world, is well-endowed with water, water availability per person is comparatively low. Water wastage is high and agricultural yields are low compared to most countries. Although climate change and trans-boundary issues are a significant hindrance for Pakistan’s water sector, the greatest challenges and opportunities are internal, not external, to Pakistan. So, improving water-use efficiency and productivity, delivery of water services in cities and in irrigation, and addressing environmental sustainability are the most pressing needs, according to this new analysis. “Water security in Pakistan is reaching a critical point that demands urgent attention and reform,” said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “Boosting irrigation productivity, while paying more attention to the social and environmental aspects of water management, is critical. This will require strong collaboration between federal and provincial governments and other stakeholders. The objective must be to strengthen water governance and strategic water planning, to build resilience in the face of a changing climate and growing water demands.”
While irrigation dominates water use in the country, the four major crops (rice, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton) that use 80 percent of water contribute only 5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Poor water management is conservatively estimated to cost 4 percent of GDP or around $12 billion per year. These costs are dominated by inadequate domestic water supply and sanitation, but also include the costs of floods and droughts. Poor sanitation and a lack of wastewater treatment cause water-borne diseases that kill 40,000 children each year. Rivers, lakes and the extensive Indus Delta are severely degraded undermining important ecosystem services. “New dams can help improve water security but will not address the most pressing water problems that Pakistan faces,” says William Young, author of the report. “Irrigation systems need modernizing; hydrometer systems should be expanded; and urban water infrastructure, especially for wastewater, requires major investment. The National Water Policy provides a sound basis for reform, but provincial water policies need much attention, and the underpinning legal framework is incomplete and needs strengthening.”
Reaching upper-middle income status by 2047 is an ambitious goal for Pakistan and will require a significant change in the structure of the economy. However, water scarcity need not limit growth. Irrigation water use can increase to meet growing food demands if efficiency improvements are made. Changes in a diet with increasing wealth will have significant impacts on commodity demands and crop choices. Agricultural subsidies must be reformed to reflect the real value of commodity exports and of water. Without reform, irrigation water use will limit water access by industry and services sectors, constraining economic growth. Attention must be given to increasing flows below Kotri Barrage both for the health of the delta and for Karachi water supply. The report was prepared by the World Bank with external contributions from local and international water experts, including the International Water Management Institute and the International Food Policy Research Institute.
HR Ministry committed to facilitate pensioners
ISLAMABAD: Joint Secretary of Human Rights Commission Muhammad Kamran said here Friday that the Ministry will look into the grievances of pensioners and will facilitate them accordingly.
He said that it is pensioners’ fundamental right to get a pension at their old age when they need it the most. He said that further amendments will be done in legislation for their old age benefit. The Ministry is fully committed to make smooth way for all government’s employees so that they can live their life with ease, he added.
He further said that the Ministry will take several measures to provide them pension with ease and comfort in their old age. He said that the incumbent government is committed to provide equal opportunities for the development of all citizens particularly senior citizen.
China issues heart-shaped commemorative coins
BEIJING: Two heart-shaped commemorative coins, one gold, and one silver have been issued by China’s central bank.
Chinese characters Jixiang, meaning auspiciousness, dominates the obverse of the two coins, while the reverse sides are decorated with traditional patterns such as a dragon, phoenix, lotus, jade and pearls, all symbols of auspiciousness and fortune.
Weighing three grams and 30 grams respectively, the gold and silver coins have a face value of 50 yuan (about 7.46 U.S. dollars) and 10 yuan separately.
Apart from the pair, the new set of commemorative coins featuring China’s auspicious culture also includes five round coins.
One silver coin, with a face value of 20 yuan and decorated with the patterns of pomegranates and chubby kids, symbolizes a big and prosperous family.
Another pair bearing the patterns of a cat, a butterfly, stones and auspicious flowers indicates longevity, while the other pair decorated with the images of magpies and plum flowers, symbolizes a joyful life.
The maximum circulation of the coins range from 5,000 to 20,000, and the set is available for sale since Thursday, according to a central bank statement.
IC of Red Cross keen to participate in Belt and Road Const.
BEIJING: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is keen to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for partnership on humanitarian assistance, a senior ICRC official has said.
Jacques Pellet, personal envoy of the ICRC President for China, spoke to Xinhua ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing.
Stating that China’s global influence was growing very fast, Pellet said the ICRC wanted to connect more with China, not only in Beijing but also in other places where it works.
“The ICRC has been working in many countries along the Belt and Road. When we first learned about the initiative, we found it very important to look at,” he said.
Pellet said that the ICRC was also eager to bring its perspectives and working experiences in humanitarian assistance into countries affected by conflicts along the Belt and Road.
“My wish is that, by working together, by focusing on development, and by supporting humanitarian assistance, we can step by step overcome humanitarian challenges faced by these countries,” he said.
Pellet also commends China for its greater responsibility in carrying out the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions globally.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China today participates in global affairs. “In many places, including places where conflict and violence exist, ICRC is working,” he said.
China first participated in UN peacekeeping missions in 1990, when five military observers were sent to Syria. Since then, China has contributed the largest number of troops to UN peacekeeping missions and the second largest share to the UN peacekeeping budget.
“We see the efforts China has spent in peacekeeping is growing very fast, and we want to strengthen our cooperation with Chinese peacekeepers,” he added.
The BRI, which refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.